A new transporter plane which will secure thousands of aerospace jobs in the West was due to be officially launched in Bristol on Monday.
The A400M could generate 40,000 jobs over 20 years
Airbus at Filton, South Gloucestershire, will be building the innovative plastic wings of the A400M plane.
The 20-billion euros (£14.5bn; $23.75bn) deal will commit seven European countries to the revolutionary military aircraft.
Once complete, the fleet will provide Europe with independent means of deploying troops, equipment and humanitarian aid to conflict zones.
The contract for the aircraft was signed by Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey, in May.
"The A400M is well positioned to replace a major part of the current worldwide fleet of tactical transport aircraft," said EADS co-chief executives Philippe Camus and Rainer Hertrich.
The plane will rival heavy-lifters made by Boeing and Lockheed Martin and provide Europe with an independent means of deploying troops and equipment to conflict zones.
The A400M is expected to generate 40,000 jobs over 20 years.
Airbus is 80% owned by EADS, with BAE Systems owning the remaining 20%.
The first planes are due to be delivered in 2009.