Italian participation in the Airbus A400M military transport programme has been killed off by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi after he sided with the defence and industry ministries in a battle with other government factions that supported the project.

The decision has no discernible impact on attempts to launch the programme as OCCAR, the European armaments procurement organisation, has signed a contract with Airbus Military to buy 196 transports.

The deal fell short of an actual launch, as the agreement remains dependent on German parliamentary approval to fund the purchase of 73 aircraft.

Uncertainty over German intentions has slowed the programme for months. Its partners, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the UK say they will review progress at the end of this month.

Source: Flight International