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French Air Force takes delivery of first A400M

The A400M heavy-lift military transport plane. An Airbus Military photo

SEVILLE, SPAIN (BNS): Airbus Military has delivered the first A400M military transport aircraft to the French Air Force, which recently received initial operational clearance (IOC) certificate from its seven European partner nations.

The first A400M, designated MSN7, was formally handed over the French Air Force on Aug 1.

"This delivery, just authorised by the French procurement agency DGA, enables the aircraft to join tomorrow the French airbase of Orleans-Bricy where it will be based with the French Air Force," the European aerospace firm announced.

The first aircraft will initially be used for the continuing training of aircrew before becoming part of the French Air Force operational transport fleet.

The A400M programme achieved a major milestone when it recently received Initial Operational Clearance from its seven partner nations (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and UK) after 10 years of its development. The project -- pegged as Europe's biggest defence venture -- was marred by technical problems and cost overruns, leading to a delay in its delivery.

France, which has ordered 50 of the new-generation airlifters, is scheduled to get two more A400Ms this year.

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