Airbus delivered the fourth and final Airbus A400M military transport aircraft to the Royal Malaysian Air Force on Thursday 9 March. The delivery comes exactly two years after delivery of the first A400M to Malaysia.
A Malaysian delegation formally accepted the fourth A400M at the Airbus production facility in Seville, Spain. The aircraft will soon head to Malaysia for participation in the LIMA airshow in Langkawi in Malaysia, which kicks off on 21 March.
Meanwhile, A Royal Air Force A400M this week visited Indonesia during a round the world trip. Indonesia is said to be a potential customer for the A400M.
France on Friday announced the selection of the Airbus H160 as the new helicopter for its air force, army and navy. Around 170 new helicopters are needed to replace many dozens of older rotorcraft of various types. Deliveries of the H160, which currently is still under development, should start in 2024.
France is looking to replace many dozens of AS342 Gazelle, AS365 Dauphin, armed AS365 Panthers and AS555 Fennecs, plus SA330 Pumas.
The choice for the H160 is somewhat surprising, given the fact that Airbus only presented this new helicopter last year and is still busy developing the new chopper. The H160 includes many innovative features, including oddly shaped main rotor blades, which according to the manufacturer reduce noise and increase payload lift.
The A400M remains a troublesome program for Airbus, which presentend its annual financial figures on Wednesday 22 February. The company’s profits shrunk by 63 percent to 995 million EUR in 2016, largely caused by continued delays in A400M development and production.
Last year, Airbus paid 2.2 billion EUR in charges over the delays, adding to charges worth billions of euros already paid in the past. Airbus is encountering fresh problems involving the A400M’s capability to carry and drop troops and military equipment.
The A400M is regarded as Europe’s largest defense program, with France, Germany, the UK, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey buying the aircraft to expand their military airlift capability. Germany especially is unhappy customer, reportedly encountering many problems with its A400Ms. So far, Malaysia is the only non-European buyer, although Indonesia now appears to show interest also.
In 2016, Airbus delivered a total of 17 A400Ms, against 11 in 2015. The aircraft manufacturer says it is continuing with improvements in A400M development and production. The company also aims to reduce risks surrounding the program, and furthermore seeks talks with customers to avoid growing charges.
© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The first Malaysian Air Force A400M in flight on 30 January 2015 (Image © Airbus)
NATO has taken another step towards filling its infmaous European tanker gap, with three more European countries looking to join the European program to acquire new refuelling aircraft. The program was started by the Netherlands and Luxembourg and should result in a shared fleet of up to eight additional tanker aircraft.
On Thursday 16 February, defense ministers from Belgium, Germany, and Norway signed a Declaration of Intent to join the creation of a European multinational fleet of Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.
The Netherlands and Luxembourg launched this initiative in July 2016 and a first order was made for two MRTT aicraft, which are due to be delivered in 2020. The new agreement allows other partner countries to join the program with the provision to enlarge the fleet to up to eight aircraft. The aircraft should be stationed at Eindhoven airbase in the Netherlands.
Indonesia is set to buy five Airbus A400M military airlift aircraft, worth 2 billion USD, according to reports on Thursday 19 January. If indeed true, that’s great news for Airbus and its somewhat troubled A400M program.
Indonesia was already known to eye the A400M as a replacement and add on for C-130 Hercules aircraft. Indonesia in recent years purchased additional C-130s from Australia, one of which unfortunately was lost in crash in 2016.
The A400M is in service in six countries, being France, the UK, Germany, Turkey and Malaysia. Additionaly, Belgium and Luxembourg have ordered the type.
An order would be a very welcome boost for the A400M program, that suffered a fatal crash almost two years ago, plus some bad press in the German press in particular.