(Adds dropped words in headline)
By Andrea Shalal
BERLIN, March 17 The German military plans to
use 13 Airbus A400M military transport planes for its
own needs after failing to find buyers for the aircraft, it told
lawmakers on Friday.
The move will mean extra costs in coming years.
Germany initially planned to buy 60 A400M aircraft, but
later lowered the number to 53. Parliament then approved a plan
in 2011 under which 13 of those aircraft would be sold to other
countries to save money, but the ministry has been unable to
find willing buyers.
The longer-term costs of operating those 13 aircraft were
still being assessed, but initial estimates pointed to one-time
startup costs of 505 million euros, including 150 million euros
needed to prepare a second A400M base, state secretary Markus
Gruebel said in a letter to parliament's budget committee.
Gruebel said the ministry continued to explore multinational
use for the 13 planes, but it made sense for the German air
force to use them in the meantime to offset delivery delays on
the other 40 A400M aircraft Germany is buying.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper last month reported that
Berlin was in talks with the Czech Republic, Switzerland and
others, about jointly operating the 13 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.
Tobias Lindner, a member of the Greens party and the budget
committee, said the decision showed that the renegotiation of
the A400M contract in 2010 had been based on false expectations
about the airplane's export prospects.
"The A400M is and remains a problem child," Lindner said in
A ministry spokesman had no immediate comment.
Airbus spokesman Florian Taitsch said the company remained
convinced about its ability to find additional buyers for the
A400M transport planes, but declined comment on the ministry's
letter to lawmakers.
($1 = 0.9306 euros)
(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)