Take-off has been 10 years in the making, but Airbus has celebrated the launch of its first A400M military transport plane.
A ceremony has been held in Seville to mark the event, in the presence of Spain’s Prince Felipe and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
It comes two months after the aircraft was actually delivered and follows years of delays and budget over-runs.
The pan-European plane maker is hoping for major global sales for what has been one of the military industry’s most ambitious projects.
The French defence minister said it was rare to celebrate an entirely new plane. The last time that happened in France was 13 years ago, he added.
The need for such a plane, which can travel 3,300 kilometres, carry 37 tonnes of equipment and land on sand, was exposed after the first Gulf War in 1991.
The project was backed by several European NATO member countries.
But the head of Airbus’ parent company EADS, Tom Enders, has complained that far from joining together in future common defence plans, governments are looking to abandon or scale back current projects.
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