KAUNAS, Feb 7 (Reuters) - German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday she had been forced to take a replacement flight back from Lithuania after her brand new A400M military transport plane was grounded due to engine problems.
The incident happened only hours after news that Germany hoped to maintain access to more A400M aircraft, instead of selling on 13 of the 53 aircraft it is due to buy.
One German military official said the A400M in question was the first tactical airlifter, equipped with defensive equipment.
A second aircraft of that type was delivered one or two weeks ago, and Germany expects to receive 8 or nine more A400M aircraft this year.
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. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal,; Writing by Michael Nienaber; editing by Ralph Boulton)