by Ryan Maass
London (UPI) Jan 5, 2017
Britain's Ministry of Defense has completed negotiating a $509 million contract with Airbus to support production for the Atlas A400M airlifter.
Currently, the Royal Air Force has 14 A400M aircraft in service. Defense officials plan to add an additional 8 by 2019. The new contract, defense officials say, secures a key part of the force's fleet until 2026.
"The U.K.'s future armed forces will be prepared to respond quickly to global developments and the delivery of next-generation aircraft such as Atlas is vital to the fulfillment of this vision," U.K. Defense Equipment and Support chief Tony Douglas said in a press release.
Douglas went on to add the agreement, which covers upgrades, maintenance, and repair services, will also bolster cooperation between the British government and its international industry partners.
"This key contract will deliver maintenance for our A400M Atlas fleet, enabling this class-leading aircraft to support U.K. military operations around the globe," Chief of Materiel Air Marshal Julian young added.
Six European countries are involved with the production of the A400M, which is capable of carrying a payload of 25 tons and fly at a range of over 2,000 nautical miles. The planes are designed to perform military airlift roles such as carrying armored vehicles and personnel, but are also fitted for humanitarian missions.
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