BERLIN Feb 6 Germany is in talks with several
countries, including the Czech Republic and Switzerland, about
jointly operating a large number of the 13 Airbus A400M
military transport planes it had planned to sell, a German
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported in Tuesday editions that
the plan would allow the German air force to maintain access to
a large number of the transport planes.
A ministry spokeswoman declined comment.
Airbus also declined comment, but a spokesman said the
report did not indicate a change in the total number of planes
that Germany expected to buy.
Germany initially planned to buy 60 of the aircraft, but
later lowered the number to 53. In 2011, the German parliament
then approved a plan under which 13 of those aircraft would be
sold to other countries to save money.
But sources familiar with the programme said a military
review had indicated greater requirements for transport planes.
The European multinational A400M programme is years behind
schedule, with Germany's share of the costs having risen to 9.6
billion euros ($10.2 billion) from an initial estimate of 8.1
billion, the ministry reported in December.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the arrangements under discussion
called for the A400M transports to be based in Germany, with
other countries being able to use them as needed, but Germany
being responsible for training, maintenance and operations.
Such pooling and sharing agreements have been strongly
encouraged by NATO and the European Union, which is seeking to
strengthen its security and cooperation among member countries.
The newspaper said it was unclear what the change in the
ministry's plans would cost, since it would depend on how many
aircraft were ultimately sold to other countries, and how many
were put into joint operating agreements.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal)