Spain Postponing Nearly Half Of A400M Orders
AeroBD | The AERO news Company…January 25, 2016, SEVILLE, Spain : The Spanish government and Airbus Defense and Space have formalized an agreement to postpone the delivery of 13 of Spain’s 27 planned A400M airlifters.
Signed in September, the agreement puts off delivery of the 13 aircraft until after 2024. It was designed to help Madrid overcome the fiscal challenges faced by the country’s defense ministry over the past five years. Spain has been hinting about reducing its A400M order for more than two years, with the aim of potentially selling the surplus aircraft to other customers. But the new agreement prevents Madrid from exporting the aircraft.
“Any decision to employ them in any way other than with the Spanish air force would need to be agreed [on] by both sides,” an Airbus spokesman told Aviation Week. Production schedules have been adjusted to reflect the changes, with Airbus now planning to produce 23 aircraft per year at peak production, an official from European defense procurement agency OCCAR told delegates. This would leave breathing room for production of aircraft for potential export customers. Airbus expects to deliver around 15 aircraft this year, with Germany’s second A400M due to be delivered soon. The news emerged as Spanish air force officers confirmed that they would take delivery of just 14 of the 27 aircraft ordered, with first delivery expected next year, then in batches of up to three aircraft until 2022.
While speaking at the Military Airlift and Rapid Reaction Operations conference here on Dec. 1, Maj. Gen. Pablo Castillo, the commander of the Spanish air force’s air mobility operations, said the aircraft would be delivered with so-called “flexible concept kits.”
All 14 of the aircraft will be fitted with satellite-communications systems. Spain will also buy nine sets of wing-mounted aerial-refueling pods and three fuselage-mounted refueling units, as well as nine defensive-aids suites and armor kits, allowing the aircraft to be used in operational theaters. Castillo told delegates that Spain needed to be able to sell the A400Ms in order to afford a new fleet of Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transports (MRTT). Spain wants to purchase three A330s to replace its aging Boeing KC-707s tankers and VIP fleets of Airbus A310s. A new tanker is now the top priority, Gen. Francisco Javier Garcia Arnaiz, head of the Spanish air force, recently told journalists in Spain.
Castillo named the Airbus C295 twin-turboprop transport as the choice for a new multipurpose platform which will be used to replace a number of types in the Spanish inventory. Spain already operates around a dozen C295s on transport duties. It plans to introduce missionized versions for maritime patrol to replace the P-3 Orion, a search-and-rescue capability currently provided by the Airbus/CASA CN235 as well as an airborne early-warning capability. Castillo said he did not expect the multimission aircraft to begin entering service before 2020.