South Africa signs up for Airbus military planes

15th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 15 (AFP) - The South African government committed Wednesday to acquire a number of A400M military transport aircraft developed by Airbus Industrie in a deal worth at least EUR 750 million (USD one billion), Airbus said in a statement.

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 15 (AFP) - The South African government committed Wednesday to acquire a number of A400M military transport aircraft developed by Airbus Industrie in a deal worth at least EUR 750 million (USD one billion), Airbus said in a statement.

But a group spokesman was unable to say how many planes might be ordered.

Airbus Military, an Airbus subsidiary, said a "declaration of intent" had been signed earlier in the day in Pretoria, marking the first commitment of interest in the A400M from a government outside the seven countries that launched the project.

The South African Transport Department last Thursday said the government was prepared to sign a multi-million-euro deal to buy between eight to 14 Airbus A400M military transport aircraft in exchange for investment, technological knowledge and jobs.

A South African Defence Ministry spokesman told AFP in Johannesburg on Wednesday that "as things stand currently, we are going to acquire a minimum of eight aircraft and a maximum of 14."

In return for buying the aircraft in a deal valued from EUR 837 million (USD 1.1 billion dollars) between 2010 and 2014, South Africa would also participate in the A400M design and manufacturing program, the department said.

"This is not a defence deal, what is involved in being part of this is a whole boost to the industrialisation of the country, particularly the aerospace industry," Vuyo Zambodla told AFP.

Exact details were not yet available, but local Transport Ministry spokesman Ian Phillips said earlier it included "guaranteed work packages to meet global standards that will be in place for the next 17 years."

"Being in at the beginning also gives our industry a strong chance to bid successfully in the maintenance and upgrade work in the future," Phillips added.

The A400M troop and light armoured vehicle carrier is the most ambitious project ever launched by the European military industrial sector, carrying an estimated cost of EUR 20 billion.

To date 180 planes have been ordered: 60 from Germany, 50 from France, 27 from Spain, 25 from Britain, 10 from Turkey, seven from Belgium and one from Luxembourg.

Airbus Military hopes to sell at least 200 in the next 15 to 20 years.

The first flight is scheduled for 2006, with initial deliveries planned for 2008.

South Africa's existing fleet of a dozen upgraded C130 medium transports and a few smaller Spanish-built CASA 212 light transports would not be able to meet future airlift requirements, including a greater focus on peacekeeping activities on the African continent, officials have said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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