SINGAPORE / BERLIN --- Europe’s new troop transporter may never go into battle with all the promised military capabilities after buyers of the A400M agreed to let Airbus negotiate an opt-out for features deemed too difficult to build.
A document signed last week between Airbus and seven NATO nations, and seen by Reuters, allows the planemaker to negotiate deals with the individual buyers so that some of the complex add-on features can be removed from the official specifications.
The new “declaration of intent” appears to mark the first time the buyers have recognized that not all the features designed to outdo competing U.S. aircraft will be available.
The agreement also recognizes that Airbus needs more time to deliver the plane than originally planned and paves the way for negotiations over a new delivery schedule.
In return for these concessions, the planemaker has pledged to provide “all necessary support and resources to the A400M program” after chronic delays and glitches with Europe’s largest defense project, which have pushed it well beyond the original budget of 20 billion euros ($24.5 billion).
The agency representing buyers Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey did not respond to a request for comment. Airbus said it could not comment on confidential negotiations.
It was unclear what complex add-on features - known as “permanent non-compliance” items - could be removed from the plane’s specifications as they were not listed in the document. (end of excerpt)
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