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France receives first A400M with tactical capability

Airbus has delivered its first A400M capable of conducting tactical tasks such as the airdrop of supplies, with the French air force accepting the tactical transport on 8 June. Other new features include the addition of cockpit armour and defensive aids system equipment, plus clearance for the Atlas to transfer and receive fuel in-flight.

The aircraft – MSN33 – is the French service’s ninth A400M, from an eventual fleet of 50. France’s DGA defence procurement agency says it expects to receive a further two A400Ms in the new standard this year, and to also have three of its in-service examples updated to the enhanced configuration.

MSN33’s delivery was followed by the handover of Malaysia’s third of four examples on 9 June, says Airbus Defence & Space head of military aircraft services Stephan Miegel.

Airbus has now delivered 26 A400Ms, also counting eight to the UK and three each for Germany and Turkey. Its total order book covers a further 148 of the aircraft.

Speaking at Airbus’s Ottobrun production facility near Munich on 20 June, Miegel said a spares pooling mechanism in place between France and the UK is being used as a model to offer a "global support" service to the programme’s other European partners. “We are negotiating with OCCAR to extend that arrangement to all seven launch nations,” he says.

Discussions between Airbus, Europe’s OCCAR defence procurement agency and customer nations over a revised delivery schedule for the A400M and related compensation payments are ongoing. This process has been prompted by the delayed introduction of contracted tactical capabilities and an issue with the Europrop International TP400-D6 engine’s Avio-produced power gearbox.

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