SA waiting for A400M refund: Sisulu


South Africa is still waiting for a 2.9 billion rand repayment from European planemaker Airbus, which has not acknowledged a cancelled deal, defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu says.

In November, South Africa pulled out of Europe’s largest defence project when it cancelled a $5.2 billion contract to buy eight Airbus A400M military transport aircraft due to rising costs and delivery delays, Reuters reports.
“We await the response of Airbus on the cancellation of this contract so that we can facilitate the return of the money that has already been paid out in line with the agreement we have with them,” Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told journalists this morning. “The recovery of the money obviously is important because it allows us to bid further for any other capacity that is available,” she said.

A local Airbus spokesman was not available for comment.

European company EADS reported a 2009 loss earlier this month, but managed to clinch a bailout with buyer nations that would further finance the over-budget project. Sisulu said the ministry would likely forward documents to cabinet in May for an upgrade to the military’s fleet at a price tag less than the 47 billion rand of the A400M procurement.
“We are now ready to put before cabinet the necessary document that will assure that we can get this capacity and proceed with the necessary procurement processes. We are certainly looking to much less … our economy cannot afford 47 billion rand,” she said. Sisulu did not rule out going back to Airbus. Boeing also builds military transporters.

Africa’s largest economy plays an active role in peace-keeping missions across the continent and is one of the largest troop contributing countries to UN operations in Africa.