The seven launch customers for Airbus Military’s A400M transport signed the final contract amendments in Seville, Spain, paving the way for the aircraft’s production to begin, announced Airbus parent company EADS Thursday. These countries—Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Spain, and Turkey—agreed that “from an industrial point of view, the program is on track,” said Airbus Military CEO Domingo Urena. This enabled them to agree “with full confidence on the industrial go-ahead,” he said. Thus far, Airbus has completed five A400Ms, four of which have logged more than 1,400 hours in nearly 450 test flights. Airbus expects to gain the A400M’s civil certification by year’s end. Delivery of the first production airframe to the French air force is slated for early 2013. The seven nations have placed orders for 170 A400Ms. Malaysia has pledged to purchase four, bringing the initial production total to 174.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.