BERLIN: Germany's air force said on Wednesday it had decided not to accept delivery of two Airbus A400M planes, citing recurring technical problems with the military transporters.
The air force said the A400M had participated in nearly 1,700 missions and formed the backbone of its air transport, being used for carrying personnel and material, air-to-air refueling, returning soldiers needing medical care and in humanitarian aid missions.
It said 31 of a total of 53 ordered aircraft had already been handed over. But it said there were technical issues, such as with nuts on propellers, and extra time was needed for inspections which would have a negative impact on the readiness of the A400M fleet.
The air force added that extra inspections were also needed for testing engine mounts, crack detection on various parts, combustion chambers and engine flaps but despite these checks, the A400M was still not able to perform all tasks.
"The overall technical defects and the realization that the two planes due to be delivered also do not possess the characteristics that were guaranteed in the contract, have resulted in the armed forces not taking these aircraft," the Luftwaffe, or air force, said in a statement.
The A400M was commissioned in 2003 to give Europe an independent airlift capacity to support military or humanitarian missions, rather than relying on the Lockheed Martin C-130 or the now out-of-production Boeing C-17.
A 3.5-billion-euro bailout from Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey rescued the A400M program from cancellation in 2010 after delays and cost overruns.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Madeline Chambers)