PARIS — Spain has joined Britain and France in signing a maintenance contract for the A400M military airlifter, allowing the three nations to draw on a common pool of spares and technical support, Airbus Defence and Space announced Wednesday.
"Airbus Defence and Space has signed a long-term Global Support Service contract for the A400M new generation airlifter with the UK, France and Spain," the company said in a statement.
The contract follows an initial two-year service deal Britain and France signed in December 2014.
"Under the new arrangement, the three nations will benefit from a spares pool, technical and engineering support, maintenance and flight operations services," Airbus DS said. The contract extends the support delivered by the manufacturer, which is developing further services.
The contract offered major cost cuts, greater efficiency and flexibility to meet operational needs, the company said.
Airbus DS called on other client nations of the A400M Atlas to join the common maintenance deal, which came into effect Dec. 1 with an initial two-year phase. Spain received its first A400M on that day.
"The intention is for the contract to continue for an extended period, subject to discussions with the nations," a company spokesman said.
"The contracts that were put in place to see the A400M into initial service have worked well, but this next stage will provide a sophisticated and highly integrated support service that will further free operators to focus on their mission, knowing that they can rely on robust support for the years ahead," said Stephan Miegel, head of military aircraft Services.
"We would encourage other A400M operators to take advantage of these arrangements which we are convinced have the potential to let them operate the aircraft to its maximum capability," he said.
Britain's Defence Equipment and Support agency, France's Direction Générale de l'Armement, and Spain's Direccion General de Armamento y Material signed up for the deal through OCCAR, the international program management organization.
Germany signed in 2014 a separate, four-year deal for its A400M fleet, with two contracts — one for system support and the other for material management.
The seven nations that have ordered the A400M are Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Spain and Turkey, for a total fleet of 170 aircraft.