UK says Thales, Airbus to build A400M training school

LONDON, March 4 Mon Mar 4, 2013 9:02am EST

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LONDON, March 4 (Reuters) - Britain's defence ministry awarded a 226 million pound ($340 million) contract to European aerospace firms Thales and Airbus on Monday to build a training centre for the A400M Atlas military transport plane.

Britain is one of seven countries that have ordered the new European heavy airlifter and is due to bring its first into service late next year.

The ministry said it also finalised an 80-million-pound deal to fit infra-red defensive aids on the Airbus-built aircraft to allow them to fly in hostile environments.

A source familiar with the project said Britain had selected an infra-red defensive system designed by U.S. contractor Northrop Grumman.

The Thales and Airbus collaboration is to build a specialist training school including flight simulators at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire in England, where Britain's A400Ms will be based.

Britain reduced its orders from 25 to 22 aircraft without a price cut as part of a plan to rescue the 20 billion euro ($26 billion) project from heavy cost overruns in 2010.

The first customer, France, is due to receive its first A400M in the second quarter of this year, about five years behind the original schedule.

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