EADS, which is preparing to start deliveries of air tankers to the Royal Australian Air Force, has also been busy promoting its Airbus Military A400M and C-295 in Australia.

The A400M would be useful to Australia because "it is twice the size of the Lockheed Martin C-130 and carries twice the weight", says EADS corporate vice-president of international development for Asia Pacific and South America Christian Duhain.

"It is a stronger aircraft and can take off from rugged airfields," he adds.

EADS has also been putting forward the C-295 to meet the military's requirement for fixed-wing short take-off and landing aircraft. The requirement has come about because late last year the air force retired its last de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou transports.

Some of the Caribou's roles will be fulfilled by utility helicopters, but the Australian Defence Force has said publicly that it will also need fixed-wing aircraft.

This procurement will come under the Department of Defence's Project 8000 phase two, which calls for "first pass" approval in the 2010-11 to 2011-12 fiscal year and a decision in either 2012-13 or 2014-15.

As an interim solution, the service has been relying on Beechcraft King Air 350s.

While EADS may be hoping Australia can become the A400M's second export customer outside Europe, it is continuing to work to deliver five Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transports to the air force.

 A330 MRTT RAAF Hornets - Airbus Military
© Airbus Military

Duhain says the programme's first two aircraft are supporting test activities in Spain, and will be delivered by the end of the year. These were modified by Airbus Military and Qantas Defence Services, respectively, with the latter to also prepare the remaining three examples.

"We are trying to make Australia part of our global supply chain," says Duhain, who notes that EADS's Eurocopter subsidiary also owns Australian Aerospace in Brisbane. The company assembles the Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter for the Australian Army.

"Our approach is not about offsets: rather our approach is long term," he says.

Duhain confirms that there may be an opportunity for Australian Aerospace to make helicopters for export customers.

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Source: Flight International