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Airbus partner nations sign final A400M contract

The seven NATO partner nations backing the Airbus A400M military transport plane on Thursday signed the final contract for the financing of the project, Airbus said.

The contract was signed at the Airbus Military factory in the southwestern Spanish city of Sevilla by Patrick Bellouard, head of the Occar consortium that groups the seven nations, and Domingo Urena, the chairman of Airbus Military.

“Today we conclude a long and difficult process … with today’s signature (we) put back on track a major cooperative programme,” said Bellouard.

Airbus Military’s parent company EADS had threatened to pull the plug on Europe’s biggest defence project unless the partner nations stumped up more cash to cover cost overruns of about 5.2 billion euros ($7.0 billion).

Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey agreed the project in 2003 and it was meant to showpiece Europe’s independence from US defence suppliers.