As negotiations to secure a future for Europe’s troubled A400M airlifter continue, the UK government is taking the hardest line with Airbus Military, and moving quickly to secure alternative solutions. At the meeting of defense ministers in Seville, Spain, last month, the UK vetoed a Franco-German proposal to delay a final decision until December. August 1 is the new deadline to achieve an outline agreement, and the ministers will meet again on July 24. Since the meeting in Seville, there have been mixed signals from UK government officials about whether they would quit the program. Meanwhile, AIN has learned that the UK will buy at least one more Boeing C-17 Globemaster, possibly two, and is also considering various options for more Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, ranging from the lease of five to the outright purchase of 10. The UK is demanding compensation from Airbus for the cost of filling the capability gap with these alternative airlifters, while the A400M is delayed.
In an attempt to boost UK support for the A400M, EADS flew program manager Domingo Urena-Raso to RAF Fairford on July 17, to attend the gala dinner of the Royal International Air Tattoo. Most of the RAF’s senior leadership attended the dinner, as well as officials and ambassadors from NATO. In a short speech, Urena-Raso told attendees that the A400M would meet military airlift requirements for the next 40 years, and sustain high-quality jobs throughout Europe. Nearly all military programs encounter delays, he added.