From the Reg article, Lord Gilbert said:
I can tell your Lordships why we are buying the A400M because I want to pay special tribute this afternoon to the defence Minister of France, who is our new best ally in Europe...
Monsieur Morin said at a news conference on Friday.
"Giving it up would have meant Europe saying it wanted to be dependent on the United States in military transport".
How pathetic. We are spending hundreds of millions of pounds on a plane just to make sure that nobody thinks we are dependent on the United States for military transport.
Here's what I have a major problem understanding: We could either have a cheap, proven useful aircraft or an expensive under performing one and we have doggedly stuck with the under performing one for grossly political reasons. Why has it under performed? Again for political reasons. I can appreciate why it is expensive - relatively small numbers, cost of development etc - but not why it is *so* expensive. Is the cost of developing the Hercules comparable? It was presumably funded by the US Government and that cost written off.
A potential way forward: Increase the sales by making two versions - a turbo fan long range one* and a turbo prop tactical landing one. The aircraft needs to be cheap enough to be used.
* Suitable for maritime patrol perhaps?
Alternatively we could waste enormous amounts of money putting turbo props on some C-17 so they could be regularly used in a tactical role.