MONT-DE-MARSAN, France — France hopes to take delivery of its first Airbus Military A400M before July 14, in time to see a its air force fly the tactical airlifter over the annual Bastille Day parade in Paris, according to defense ministry officials.
Airbus Military is working to complete military certification of the aircraft by mid-June, when the company is expected to fly an A400M at the Paris air show the week of June 17. But it is unclear whether certification can be completed in time to demo France's first aircraft, MSN7, at the biennial exhibition.
The country will receive its initial aircraft more than three years late, but a series of capability upgrades will continue after delivery. The first aircraft will only have initial operating clearance, essentially allowing its use as a freighter with no significant additional military functionality.
The A400M achieved civil certification in March, and Airbus officials say it has more than 5,000 hr. of testing. They also say that further clearances will gradually introduce tactical airlift and other military capabilities.
France is due to receive three aircraft this year, and the Turkish air force is slated to take delivery of a single aircraft.