Speaking at a pre-Farnborough Airshow press conference, Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence & Space (DS), was optimistic his company could sign an additional contract for its A400M military transport plane this year, having been in negotiations with a potential undisclosed buyer for the airlifter.
Mr. Hoke furthermore expects to demonstrate the aircraft’s ability to refuel helicopters in mid-air by the end of the year, one of several features whose delivery was delayed. He also expects to complete revamped delivery deals with individual buyers this year following a declaration of intent signed in February.
Earlier in the press briefing, Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus, said the company saw rising defence demand in Europe, where military budgets are now expanding after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine, and given pressure from US President Donald Trump.
Mr. Hoke also highlighted fresh momentum in efforts to bring together the highly fragmented European defence market, citing the EuroDrone (story here) and a Franco-German future fighter project (story here).
According to the Airbus DS CEO it is important that the Franco-German project will define its requirements prior to bringing other partners on board, to avoid the complexity that has slowed down other multinational defence programmes, such as the TYPHOON and A400M.
In the meantime, Mr. Hoke remains, “very optimistic,” about the prospects for the Eurofighter programme – which Airbus Defence & Space produces alongside BAE Systems and Leonardo. Campaigns are ongoing in Belgium, Finland, Germany and Switzerland.