(NSI News Source Info) February 10, 2009: Having initially thrown a very public hissy fit over the latest delay to the Airbus A400M military airlifter, the UK may be reconciling itself to the inevitable. John Hutton, the British secretary of state for defense, told Parliament in January: “We cannot accept a three or four-year delay in the delivery of those aircraft. That would impose an unnecessary, unacceptable strain on our air assets. We, along with all our partner nations, will have to consider very carefully what the right response to the problem is.” The right response – if a more recent answer from Quentin Davies, the minister for defense equipment and support, is anything to go by, was to carry out a simple piece of arithmetic. “Early A400M production aircraft will be delivered to some of our partner nations and therefore the first UK delivery would occur at least six months after Airbus delivers the first A400M,” Davies told Parliament at the end of last week. He added: “This suggests that initial UK deliveries could not start before 2013 and therefore the estimated in-service date of the A400M (defined as acceptance into service of the seventh aircraft) would be 2014.” The RAF had been expecting the aircraft in 2011 – those this date itself reflected earlier slippage in the program. The A400M is already the most recent poster child for what can go wrong with European multi-national programs – a fate its establishment as an Airbus project was meant to avoid.
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