Airbus says UK exit will not kill A400M

  A British withdrawal from the A400M transport aircraft project would hurt Europe’s biggest military programme but not kill it, Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders says
“If Britain were to make this decision, it would have an impact, but would not put the programme in danger,” Enders said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Economista.
“We need the British industry’s experience and knowledge and it seems fairly unlikely that they will not take part in such an ambitious project both for them and the rest of Europe,” he said.
Reuters says European defence ministers are due to meet in Seville, southern Spain today to discuss the troubled project, which has been delayed by about four years.
Britain, which ordered 25 of the 180 planes earmarked for European NATO countries, has threatened to pull out over the delays while also signalling its commitment to stay on board.
However, sources have told Reuters it has put forward conditions other partners are unlikely to accept.
“It is up to the governments involved to reach an agreement now. We think it is unlikely that there will be a unanimous decision to block the contract,” Enders said.
Seven European Nato countries have ordered the A400M, designed to carry troops and heavy equipment to rugged areas such as Afghanistan, but development problems have delayed production and it has yet to make its maiden flight.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports Germany could see the delivery of its first A400M in 2014.
The news service says a delivery timetable shows Airbus has further delayed its plans to deliver planes to the German Luftwaffe.
Development was held up mainly by engine difficulties but manufacturers also blame a laundry list of customised national requirements such as defensive aids and navigational features.
Germany, for example wants its 60 prop-driven A400Ms to have the ability to hug the landscape to avoid attack.