Seven European nations this week signed a £14 billion deal with Airbus to buy the A400M military transport aircraft, ending years of negotiations over the future of the programme.
Airbus will supply 180 aircraft to seven NATO armed forces, including 25 to the UK.
The A400M, which draws heavily on Airbus’s civil aerospace experience, is designed to fill the gap in the airlift capability of European armed forces, which rely heavily on US help.
The project has survived setbacks including several early partners dropping out and hand-wringing by Germany over whether it could afford to buy any aircraft.
The Germans eventually ordered 60 – fewer than planned, but still making it the A400M’s largest single customer.