Airbus Military has started final assembly of its first production A400M transport.
The French air force is scheduled to receive the airlifter (MSN7) in late 2012 or early 2013, Airbus said. Eight other A400Ms are at various stages of production.
The A400M began test flights in late 2009 and is positioned as an intermediate sized airlifter between the Lockheed Martin C-130J and Boeing C-17. Airbus claims the A400M is the world’s most cost efficient airlifter and “can do more with less” – a pitch tailored to the budgetary realities facing European governments.
Airbus holds 174 orders for the aircraft from eight nations.