With a starring role as part of a Bastille Day flypast in Paris on 14 July at stake, the French military's airworthiness authorities are working at full speed to accept the nation's first Airbus Military A400M into operational service.
"We are all of us keenly committed to the soonest possible delivery," said Bruno Sainjon, operations director for France's DGA defence procurement agency.
"For the air force, the adventure is beginning right now," says Gen Guy Girier, head of the service's plans and programmes office. Fifteen air crew and 70 technicians have so far completed their training to operate the type from Orléans air base, he adds. "Then our next milestone, in early 2014, will be to be ready to operate this aircraft overseas in all its roles."
Standing beneath France's second production aircraft, Airbus Military's A400M programme head Cedric Gautier says: "We have a fantastic bird, about to be delivered." The process to hand over lead aircraft MSN7 is continuing at the company's site in Seville, Spain, he adds, with its delivery to take place "in the coming weeks".
"We are still negotiating a bit - sometimes toughly - but with a keen will that the aircraft soon will be delivered to the forces," Gautier says.
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