Britain committed to A400M “but not at any cost”

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Britain remains committed to the much-delayed A400M military transport aircraft project but “not at any cost”, a government report says.

“We are currently considering all potential outcomes,” the government said in response to a parliamentary committee report urging it to abandon the Airbus plane.

Reuters adds the government said it did not expect the A400M to enter service before 2014. Airbus military has indicated the first flight will occur no later than February 2010, the report said.

It added British expenditure on defence equipment was expected to rise to £6.9 billion pounds for 2008-09, compared with £6.7 billion in the previous year.

In February, a parliamentary panel report said Britain should abandon the A400M because of lengthy delays.

The A400M, Europe‘s biggest military project, is already three to four years late. I

ts future depends on talks between the seven European governments that ordered the plane. They have agreed a moratorium until July.

“We are considering a number of options as a contingency to mitigate any capability gap as a result of delays to or termination of the A400M programme,” the government report said.

“These include an extension to the life of the C-130K fleet and leasing or procuring additional C-17 and C-130J capacity,” it said, referring to other planes.

“The costs, benefits and timescales of each of the potential options form part of wider analysis work.”



Pic: A400M aircraft depicted over Mont St Michel island-monastery, Normandy, France