Take-off of the first Luftwaffe A400M from Seville, Spain, on 14 October 2014 (Image © Airbus Defence & Space)

German Defence Minister shoots at Airbus in anger

Germany becomes more and more worried about its airlift capacity. With the transfer from the aging Transall C.160 to the new Airbus A400M going far from good, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen now aims – more angry than before – her sights at the European aircraft manufacturer.

“Airbus has a serious problem with its understanding of product quality,” Mrs. Van der Leyen told prominent German weekly magazine Der Spiegel this weekend. “That Airbus announced there might be even more delivery delays hits us at a most inconvenient time.”

Germany has ordered 53 Airbus A400M, to be the core of its military airlift capacity. Only one has been delivered so far and German Air Force officials are said not to be happy with the quality of the product, which seems less than advertised or at least not meeting expectations. Key are problems in Airbus’s production of the plane, which does not seem to guarantee that the A400Ms live up to the specs. A similar problem has occurred with the Eurofighter EF2000, the meant-to-be core of the German Air Force combat fleet, in which Airbus is the major share holder (46%). Germany is even considering selling 13 A400Ms to level off the force to 40 due to financial constrains.

The German doubts over the A400M are not new, as Airheadsfly.com reported in November.

The only country so far with a credible A400M force is France, where a “lite” squadron of six aircraft has become operational since first delivery in 2013, with another 44 on order. The Royal Air Force has one of 22 aircraft and the Turkish Air Force two out of 10 ordered. The Royal Malaysian Air Force first of four aircraft has just been painted.

Like Germany Spain is considering reselling its ordered A400Ms. With none delivered so far plans call to only hold 14 of the 27 tactical airlifters on strength, but the first might come as late as 2017. Belgium (7) and Luxembourg (1) might not get their A400Ms before the end of this decade.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

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The star of current German airlift operations, the C-160 Transall, scores a 50% availiability rate (Image © Marcel Burger)
The star of current German airlift operations, the C-160 Transall, scores a 50% availiability rate (Image © Marcel Burger)
Take-off of the first Luftwaffe A400M from Seville, Spain, on 14 October 2014 (Image © Airbus Defence & Space)
Take-off of the first Luftwaffe A400M from Seville, Spain, on 14 October 2014 (Image © Airbus Defence & Space)