A French Air Force A400M takes off in September. Turkey is now conducting acceptance tests on its first Airbus airlifter. (Agence France-Presse)
ANKARA — The first Turkish A400M built by the multinational Airbus Military consortium arrived in Turkey in December and has been undergoing acceptance tests, procurement officials here said.
Turkey plans to receive a batch of 10 aircraft in the next two to three years. Turkish officials say the A400M will cost Ankara $1.5 billion, and the same amount would go to the country’s local industry in work share.
A procurement official familiar with the program said there have been a couple of “minor problems” with the first aircraft and the acceptance tests have not yet been completed. “These are not major difficulties and we hope the tests would be completed soon,” the official said.
The aircraft arrived at the 221st Air Fleet in Kayseri in central Turkey.
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is manufacturing the main fuselage for all 174 A400Ms to be produced as part of this international program. Turkey, a 5.5 percent shareholder of the program, hopes business for local companies will increase as more aircraft are produced for export markets.
Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and Britain joined in the program that, together with export customer Malaysia, has garnered 174 orders.
Among the other significant A400M operators, Britain is scheduled to get its first aircraft next year and German deliveries will follow in 2015.
Earlier, the A400M venture overcame serious technical problems, delivery delays and budget overruns that almost saw Airbus and the partner nations scrap the program. But since then, the tone has changed.
The aircraft was conceived in the 1980s to meet a looming shortfall in military transport capacity among the seven European NATO nations. The A400M competes with the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules turboprop and the larger Boeing C-17 cargo jet.
The turboprop aircraft has a payload capability of up to 37 tons or 116 paratroopers, and can also serve as an air-to-air tanker for fast jets and other aircraft. ■