February 21, 2011 / 9:39 AM / in 7 years

Airbus expects to sell 400 A400Ms over 30 years

ABU DHABI, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Airbus EAD.PA expects global sales of its A400M military transport plane, a long-delayed project plagued by cost overruns, to reach 400 over the next 30 years, a company official said on Monday.

Didier Vernet, Airbus’s head of market development, said Middle East and North African states were expected to order between 50 and 100 planes.

“There are prospects for us when the countries phase out the C-130 and C-17 (U.S. military cargo planes made by Lockheed Martin and Boeing),” he told reporters on the sidelines of a defence exhibition in the UAE capital.

He forecast global demand for military cargo planes to be around 800 over the next 30 years and Airbus’s military wing is aiming for half of the market share.

“There are a lot of old aircraft to replace,” Vernet said. “The prospects for the coming 30 years are 400 aircraft.”

The A400M is designed to transport soldiers and heavy equipment to rugged combat zones. But technical problems have pushed the 20 billion-euro ($27 billion) project four years behind schedule and 11 billion euros over budget.

Last year European government buyers agreed a funding deal to rescue the project. [ID:nLDE6A41R3]

The seven nations behind the project -- Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey -- have orders totalling 174 planes.

Vernet also said Airbus Military has received orders from Middle Eastern states for its A330 MRT in-flight refuelling and transport aircraft.

He said Saudi Arabia has ordered six planes, the first of which would be delivered in 2012 while the United Arab Emirates has ordered three with the first planned for delivery later this year. ($1=.7302 euros) (Writing by Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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