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Luxembourg willing to pay extra for A400M

Luxembourg – Luxembourg stands ready to cover some of the extra costs of building the Airbus A400M military transport plane, its defence minister, Jean-Marie Halsdorf, said in a document seen on Wednesday.

"Luxembourg will continue its participation in the project even if that means a supplementary financial contribution whose amount is still under negotiation," he said in a written answer to a question from parliament.

Luxembourg has already earmarked EUR 120 million (USD 170 million) to buy one A400M in partnership with Belgium, which has ordered seven more of the planes used primarily to lift forces, equipment and cargo into conflict areas.

The European countries, which also include Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Turkey, badly need the new transport aircraft but the project is more than three years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget.

Louis Gallois, head of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company whose Airbus unit is developing the A400M, called Saturday on the seven NATO nations to provide "a clear idea" on its future by the end of this week.

EADS has threatened to pull the plug unless the seven, which have together ordered 180 of the planes for EUR 20 billion (USD 28 billion), stump up more cash, saying the European aerospace sector is at stake.

Last week, French Defence Minister Herve Morin set a deadline of 28 February to strike a deal. The shortfall is estimated at around EUR 5.2 to 5.3 billion, taking into account existing commitments and pledges.
AFP / Expatica