Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Monday, 15 March 2010

Airbus A400M programme plans US sales

A400M transporter
The A400M will not be ready until at least 2012

Europe's leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus says it plans to sell around 210 of its A400M military planes to the US.

The company said it hopes to sell 500 of the transporters to countries without existing orders.

The head of Airbus Military, Domingo Urena, told reporters the US was a "key country" for the A400M programme.

The plan comes despite the recent decision by Airbus's parent company, EADS, to end its bid for a massive US refuelling tanker contract.

That bid was ended amid complaints from EADS's US partner, Northrop Grumman Corporation, that the terms of the contract favoured Airbus's American rival Boeing.

Commenting on plans for the A400M programme, Mr Urena said the US was an still an obvious market to target.

"It's out of the question that we don't go over to compete in the United States, insofar as the American's give us the opportunity to do it," he said.

The A400M has been dogged by budget and manufacturing setbacks in recent months.

It is 5bn euros ($7.25bn; £4.5bn) over its initial budget as a result of weight and engine problems, though additional funds will be provided by the seven countries - Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK - that have ordered 180 A400M aircraft in total between them.

The company expects the first planes to be ready for delivery in 2013, with production due to begin at the end of this year.

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