Buoyed by partner Northrop Grumman's spectacular US Air Force KC-X tanker contest win with the Airbus A330 platform, EADS is beginning to size up a potential US military requirement for an Airbus Military A400M-sized transport aircraft.
"This is a unique aircraft - one of a kind between the C-130J and C-17. Why should we not target the US?" says EADS military transport aircraft division head Carlos Suarez. He cautions, however, that "it's too early for any possible detailed discussions".
Aside from the nine nations that have already signed up for 192 A400Ms, Airbus Military sees potential demand for another "200-400" aircraft over the next 15-20 years, not including China, the CIS and the USA, says Airbus Military vice-president customer marketing Peter Scoffham.
The A400M production rate is due to stabilise at 28 aircraft a year in 2012, but subject to demand this could be increased to 33.
The last of the 192 aircraft already under contract will roll off the line in 2021, but the first slots for new export customers will be available around 2012, says Scoffham.
- Images of the A400M on AirSpace