For the next few months Airbus Military will concentrate on ensuring that the A400M's flight testing is ramped up: it is somewhat behind schedule because Seville, in southern Spain, where the final assembly line for the A400M is, has suffered its worst winter rains in 75 years (there's even been snow) and sensors to check that the first aircraft is flying as its conceptors designed it are very sensitive to humidity!
“But the second plane will be able to fly in any type of weather!” Domingo Ureña-Raso, Airbus Military CEO remarked over a breakfast with journalists on Monday.
“We are dedicating the first half of this year to ensuring the supply for our seven customer nations,” he said, “but we are preparing our export campaigns which we will launch during the second semester.” Would Airbus Military have the time to build aircraft for export in its busy schedule to deliver the 180 aircraft it has to deliver to the seven nations? I wondered.
“We could export some of the aircraft originally scheduled for delivery to some of these seven nations,” he responded. “It is not forbidden and our seven clients are just as interested in exporting these as we are.”
Obviously, because Airbus Military will pay an export levy to the seven nations to reimburse the loan it has been given by them. So, basically, the faster the aircraft are exported, the quicker the loan will be reimbursed.
And yes, despite recent disappointments over the infamous US Air Force tanker contract, Airbus Military will be touting the A400M in the United States. Perhaps the US Air Force could just use the A400M as its tanker aircraft. After all, it does have refuelling capacity.
By 2016 Airbus Military plans to be producing two aircraft a month “although we can push this to two and a half if necessary,” Ureña-Raso said. In 2013 it will build four aircraft; in 2014 it will make eight and in 2015 it will ramp up so that it can be producing 24 a year by 2016.
Oh, yes, and for those of our readers who like to know about prices, comparisons etc:
Airbus Military says that it would take 22 C-130Js to do the same job in tons delivered x distance flown as 10 A400Ms. The 22 C-30Js would cost about 60% more than the 10 A400Ms. Alternatively you could have a combined fleet of 12 C-130Js + 2 C-17s to do the same job as the 10 A400Ms. In that case your combined fleet would cost 25% more than the A400Ms.