You may remember that South Africa had signed a final contract in December 2006 to buy eight A400Ms before pulling out of the project three years later on grounds that the aircraft would not be delivered in time and that the cost had escalated beyond what the South African taxpayer could be expected to pay.
The problem was that a number of South African companies had won important work share because of the contract. Denel Saab Aerostructures is the design authority for two of the A400M’s top shells, which sit in front of and behind the center wing box fuselage section, and for the aluminum/composites wing-fuselage fairings. They also contribute the ribs and spars for the tail fin, and center wing box structural components. The firm expected revenue of €1.2 billion from its A400M activities.
Aerosud is mainly responsible for secondary structures: linings for the nose fuselage, cargo hold, and cockpit; the cockpit rigid bulkhead, nose fuselage galleys, and the wing tips which contain some defensive systems. That workshare has been estimated at about €143 million.
Discussions between Airbus Military and South Africa concerning the cancellation are now over, Domingo Ureña, CEO of Airbus Military, told a media dinner last week in Toulouse. “I still believe they need the A400M,” he said but for the moment talks are concentrating on medium and light aircraft, such as the C212, CN235 and CN295, the latter two particularly for maritime patrol missions.
A maritime patrol C295 of the Chilean Navy. photo credit: Airbus Military