Bloomberg columnist Celestine Bohlen advocates termination of the A400M program in a piece that would be hard-hitting if it was any more accurate than a crew of terrified Bomber Command rookies in a spluttering, leaky Stirling, attempting to find Krefeld through an undercast that the boys in Met failed to predict.
Like a good comedian, Bohlen gets the laughs started early:
If the Europeans swallow their pride, and buy American military-transport planes, then maybe the U.S. Air Force could stifle its own protectionist urges and award a much-disputed $40 billion contract for aerial-refueling tankers to EADS and its U.S. partner, Northrop Grumman Corp.
Well, first of all, the USAF already did that, but was overruled by higher elements of the procurement food-chain. Neither does Bohlen explain how such a deal could be brokered, much less enforced over a period of decades; or why the Europeans should trust it; or why Boeing would give up hundreds of tankers so that LockMart could sell more C-130s.
The project has become a kind of Christmas tree, with the different governments trying to add on special features, such as low-flying or all-weather capability.
Whereas, if this wasn't a project run by socialists, the aircraft would be delivered in VFR-only configuration.
But never mind - opinion is clearly against the A400M:
No wonder people talk about the A400M as a nightmare. Nick Witney, a former director of the European Defense Agency, calls it a disaster.
One tiny problem. He said exactly the opposite:
“If it doesn’t proceed to producing an aircraft, it will be a catastrophe,” he said.
In other news, UK minister for defence equipment and support Quentin Davies was quoted as saying that "we have very little time left, and it would be quite irresponsible to express undue optimism about the prospects of a successful renegotiation involving the UK" - a viewpoint that seems more pessimistic than that of his boss, PM Gordon Brown.
Davies could be playing the bad cop. Or it could be that the UK is not going to commit to buying overweight aircraft with no fixed price tag when they are years behind schedule in flight testing.