Yikes….A400M Woes Part II

KUALA LUMPUR: Based on the story below my earlier guesstimate that the A400M, if we continue with the procurement, will most likely be inducted into RMAF by 2020, may well be correct.

Malaysian Defence believes its time to cancel the deal and start looking for other options. We dont have enough money to wait this long.

Malaysian Defence

Airbus A400M Facing 3-Year Delay: Report

PARIS – Airbus’s flagship A400M military transport plane is facing a three-year delay, Le Figaro reported Feb. 10, adding an estimated five billion euros to its price tag.

The French daily cited confidential documents which said the plane, originally due for delivery this year, would not be available before the end of 2012.
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“The test flight is planned for the beginning of 2010 and the first delivery at the end of 2012,” the report said, quoting a confidential note from Airbus Military to OCCAR, the European organization for military cooperation that represents seven countries.

Deliveries had originally been scheduled to begin in 2009, but it is only in 2014 that Airbus’ military subsidiary will be able to deliver significant numbers of the aircraft to clients, the newspaper reported.

The delay will cost Airbus dearly, with Le Figaro saying experts cited figures in the area of five billion euros ($6.4 billion), about the same as delays to the A380 superjumbo have cost the company.

The Financial Times Deutschland reported last month the A400M is overweight and cannot carry its designed payload, necessitating modifications.

The A400M is the most ambitious European military procurement program.

Begun in 2003, a total of 192 of the aircraft have been ordered so far for more than 20 billion euros.

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About Marhalim Abas 2226 Articles
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  1. Agreed, cancel it. Buy the C130J or other equivalent (which at this point intime cant think of any). Is’nt embraer also embark on a prject with similar configuration to C130?

  2. I would go for the the C-17 which will significantly increase the RMAF transport wing capability.
    Fly twice as far and twice the payload of A400M. USAF has placed additional 15 C-17 for US$2.95B, reported on the defence-aerospace recently and that is close to US$200mil per bird. However, Australia did paid A$2.0 bil (US$1.5bil/ Yr2006) for 4 aircraft but that comes with related equipment, services and spares.
    Could be good to re-channel the funds from the A-400m to the C-17. Easily could receive the frist aircraft on Yr 2013.
    Could start with firm order of 2 and follow by option for another 2, just like Qatar.

    Marhalim: C-17s are too expensive for our defence budget, even in good times.

  3. This is getting ridiculous. 5 years late, fails to meet the payload specifications… I say scrap the contract right now and buy something else. Chile has already nullified it’s order for 3 A400M and instead decided to upgrade it’s C-130 fleet. Time for Malaysia to follow up, in my eyes.

  4. It has been reported that in the initial contract (signed by the European Govts) that there is an exit clause if the first flight happens 14 months after the deadline, originally it was 2006 and now 2010, they could leave the programme and received penalties from Airbus.

    I wonder whether we also signed that exit clause.

  5. Cannot cancel! Otherwise, this company will banyak rugi


    Marhalim: I know CTRM will be in deep trouble if we decide to cancel the A400M but since when does defence is beholden to industry? Anyways with the on-going economic slow down, CTRM cannot expect orders from Airbus anyways. Furthermore even with the A400M, CTRM and other malaysian companies are getting scraps from Airbus. We should be building A320 wing box like what Airbus is doing with China.

    However if we are smart about it (the cancellation) we can keep the cake and eat it too.

  6. A more detailed look at the A400M history and latest developments. From DID

    “The original EUR 16 billion A400M contract was signed in December 2001 for development and production of 196 aircraft. That contract scheduled the first flight for 2006 and initial deliveries for 2008. A EUR 20 billion contract was signed in 2003, and the original dates have now slipped to 2009 or even 2010 for first flight; 2013 is now being discussed as the realistic initial delivery date.

    According to the February 2009 report from the French Senat, serious development problems and delays have arisen in the aircraft’s digital engine controls, navigation and low-level flight systems, horizontal tail surfaces, and the definition of the wing design. Airbus’ current proposal apparently includes an interim standard that would not be capable of the more sophisticated flight modes, until avionics issues have been resolved.

    The key specifications change to date involves base weight estimates that have risen by 12t/ 26,500 pounds. Airbus is not proposing to change the aircraft’s 37t carrying capacity, which implies a new maximum landing weight of 134t instead of 122t. That means the most likely performance changes will be to speed (300 knots target), unrefueled range (3,450 nm target for 20t C-130J class payload; 1,780nm target at maximum 37t), and to the length of runway required for takeoff (914 m/ 3,000 feet target) and landing (822 m/ 2,700 feet target) when fully loaded. Some customers and potential customers may have issues if those new lengths extend too far, and begin to exclude a number of bases currently in use by Lockheed’s competing C-130 family.

    The 2009 Senat report report estimated that A400M production would ramp up only in 2014, and that it would take until 2020 to clear the backlog introduced by development delays, assuming acceptable settlement of contractual and development issues. Current costs per A400M aircraft are placed at at EUR 145 million, vs. 110 million in 1998 Euros. At 2%-3% inflation per year, EUR98 100 million turns into about EUR 120 million by 2009, so the rise in price is about 21% in real terms over the past decade.”

  7. I would say go for the C-130J options for the time being. It’s much cheaper alternative compared to C-17 or waiting until A-400M wpes finally get cleared up, and beside we have a lot of experience operating the earlier type of this aircraft before. It shouldn’t cost the RMAF much for induction and familirasation.

    Furthermore, if we update the older ones into the J series while at the same time buying several new ones I think it should fill up the gap until we can finally reconsider to buy A-400M again.

    Lets opt for the lesser than the two evil option. Cancel the A-400M program.

    Marhalim: As a note, the Indians bought 10 C130Js together with spares, training and other items for USD1 billion. When we bought the six original Hercules way back in 1974, it only cost us USD48 million. My how much time has changed…..A J version Hercules cost USD60 million each now without the other necessary equipment of course….

  8. Do we dare to consider the Russian equivalent the antonov, either 70,76 or even an124 ruslan?

    marhalim: only at the last resort due to spares and support issues. They are cheap in the short run but even India and China are finding it difficult to support these planes for the long term without their local industry. For them its economical to set up a small industry to support these planes.

  9. correct me if i am wrong, but i personally feel the burden on the C130 fleet was increase due to lower than expected replacement of the caribou i.3e the CN 235. Though could only carry 6 (/)tonne and more for shorter distance, initially it was targeted 20 CN235 to replace the 30+ caribou but only 8 was acquired. Thus i figure some of the supposed workload were passed to C130.

    Maybe RMAF should also look at the CN295 stretch version with 9 tonne capability or even the C27 Spartan, for short haul mission and thus only keep the latest version of the C130 for more long haul and heavy duty.

    Marhalim: I do not believe any of the tasks performed by the Caribou had been supplemented by the Hercules as their capabilities are not the same and most of the Caribou duties were for austere field conditions. As mentioned by Simon before, most of the Caribou fleet roles were taken over by the Nuri fleet especially those in Sarawak and Sabah.

    It will better for us to pursue the C295 option rather than the Spartan which is heavier and totally new airframe and support infrastructure.

  10. The whole purpose of getting the A400 is because apart from the 5 stretched C-130 Hs delivered in 1995, the remaining fleet is about 30 years old now. With delays in the A400 programme and reluctance to upgrade the ‘H’ fleet, it remains to be seen what the government decides to do. Of course not only cash but the political enviroment is an issue.

    Apart from the fact that the RMAF would oppose the induction of any Russian built transports [similiarly I believe that if the RMAF had the final say, the Super Hornet would have been selected instead of the MKM], Russian built engines and other components like landing gears, etc, have a shorter lifespan than western types so the operating costs would be higher in the long run. Like the MKM programme, integrating western avionics into a Russian transport will cost an arm and leg. It appears that the only sensible alternative would be the C-130J… The only good news is that the RMAF’s ‘H’ fleet is not as overworked as RAF and USAF C130s, so has many years of flying time left.

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