Defence written question – answered on 8th January 2002.

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Photo of Matthew Taylor Matthew Taylor Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Treasury)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on when the Government will sign the contract for the A400M.

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Labour, Chorley

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with partner countries on the announcement of the signing of the contract for the A400M.

Photo of Geoff Hoon Geoff Hoon Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence

On 18 December 2001, I signed an inter-Governmental memorandum of Understanding to allow the A400M contract to be placed. The contract itself was signed on the same day by the Organisation for Joint Armaments Co-operation (OCCAR), on behalf of the partner nations, and by the contractor Airbus Military. It provides for the development and manufacture of 196 aircraft in a single launch order. The UK's share is 25 aircraft. OCCAR will manage the programme to standards agreed by the partner nations.

The A400M contract will enter into force once final Bundestag approval has been given to the German commitment. The agreement of other nations, including the UK, is subject to the German signature becoming effective. If this has not happened by the end of January 2002, these authorisations will lapse, providing a further opportunity to review the position.

I am content that the programme now agreed with Airbus Military satisfies the conditions that I set out in my announcement to the House on 16 May 2000 for our participation in the A400M programme. Specifically:

Programme commitments now total 196, well above the notional level of viability of 180 aircraft.

The price negotiated with Airbus Military is affordable and represents value for money.

Achievement of contract signature on 18 December is consistent with the UK's In-Service Date. This is planned to be 2010.

The commercial terms and conditions of the contract are acceptable.

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