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Airbus finally delivered A400M military transport plane

Staff writer |
France has become the first country to receive an A400M military transport plane from Airbus. Ten years long project, worth $27 billion (20 billion euros), was about 5 billion euros over budget and three years behind schedule.

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The delivery Thursday culminates "a long, complex and thorough process" between Airbus Military and the seven European nations behind the program, France's DGA military procurement agency said in a statement.

In 2010, the program nearly collapsed over cost overruns: A struggle between Airbus and its military customers over technical and financial problems came to a head when Airbus parent EADS threatened to pull the plug on the project. The plane was salvaged after a new infusion of government funds.

Airbus says the A400M, which uses the largest turboprop engines ever fitted to a Western aircraft, will be able to carry twice the load of another competitor, the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, and that its fuel-efficient power plants will make it cheaper to operate than the jet-powered C-17.

The A400M's turboprops, mounted high on the wing, allow it to fly in and out of unprepared airstrips where jet-powered transports with engines slung low beneath the wings face the danger of ingesting runway debris, Airbus said. The European defence and aerospace consortium expects to sell about 400 of the freighters over the next 30 years.

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