France and the UK signed a wide-ranging defense pact with far-reaching consequences for operational and industrial policy. The two countries will create an integrated carrier strike group and coordinate refits to ensure that one British or French aircraft carrier is always operational.
The UK is to cut its planned acquisition of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) by up to two-thirds, switch versions and delay introduction of the aircraft.
Airlift manufacturers were prominent at last month’s African Aerospace and Defence show in Cape Town, highlighting the need of the South African Air Force (SAAF) to renew its air transport fleet.
So the A400M is now named the Grizzly. Or is it? Upon closer investigation, yesterday’s christening ceremony may not have conferred a definitive moniker on Europe’s new airlifter. Airbus Military spokeswoman Barbara Kracht told AIN that the bearish name applies only to the flight test aircraft. For the moment. “Maybe it will become official, eventually,” she said.
Talks to amend the Airbus A400M development and production contract will drag on into the autumn as the moratorium on funding imposed by the European partner nations continues.
At face value, the UK’s aerospace and defense industries might feel entitled to breathe a quiet sigh of relief and gently pat themselves on the back coming into this year’s Farnborough airshow. When the 2008 event closed its doors it was obvious to all but the most optimistic analysts that these markets were on the cusp of a major downturn that threatened to drastically clip the wings of these industry sectors.
Armed forces in Europe are bracing themselves for severe cutbacks as governments tackle budget deficit problems. The scale of the cuts is evident in a couple of proposals made public last week. Germany’s defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, has tabled a plan that saves €9.3 billion ($11.7 billion) in the long term, with current fleets and acquisition programs hit hard.
Germany is negotiating to reduce the number of A400M airlifters that it will receive from Airbus Military. Like the UK, it wants to take a cut in fleet size as its contribution to the €2 billion of additional A400M funding that was agreed in principle by the seven European customer nations last March.
EADS will receive an extra €2 billion to continue the A400M program, as well as a loan of €1.5 billion to be repaid as a levy on future exports of the airlifter. An ”understanding” with the eight European partner nations also includes forgiveness of all late delivery penalties to date, and an acceleration of pre-delivery payments.
Airbus chief executive officer Tom Enders refused all comment on the A400M airlifter here yesterday as talks to continue the troubled project reached a critical stage in Europe. Defense procurement ministers from the eight European customer nations are to meet again today for the third time in as many weeks to discuss their negotiating position.