Germany wants fewer A400M planes: official

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Germany now wants just 40 of the 53 Airbus A400M military transport planes it has ordered, a parliamentary official said Tuesday, handing more bad news to the trouble-plagued project.

Deputies from the ruling coalition parties will present the revised project to the budgetary committee on Wednesday which will then devise a plan for cutting the spending on the A400M, said Juergen Koppelin, the parliament's defence budget rapporteur.

The A400M has been plagued by setbacks, with the aircraft's first flight postponed to a date that has yet to be determined because of engine problems.

It is the second time in months that Germany has sought to cut its complement of A400Ms. In November, it reduced its firm order from 60 planes to the current 53.

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) was supposed to get the transport plane in the air for an inaugural flight in January 2008 and Germany is one of seven European countries awaiting a total of 180 A400Ms.

Germany will not renege on its order for 53 of the planes but will sell 13 of them on to other clients, Koppelin explained in a statement.

There was no mention of the potential buyer for the unwanted quarter of Germany's order but Airbus Military will be charged with selling them on.

There was no comment from EAD, the parent group of Airbus Military.

German deputies are expected to give the green light to the changes on Wednesday.

Last November, the seven NATO countries that are to purchase the Airbus A400M, Germany, France, Spain, Britain, Turkey, Belgium and Luxembourg, reached an agreement on financing 5.2 billion euros (7.2 billion dollars) of cost over-runs. The A400M development program is now three years behind schedule.

A formal and definitive agreement has yet to be signed.

© 2011 AFP

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