(Recasts, adds details)
BERLIN, May 31 (Reuters) - Germany is not considering cancelling the troubled Airbus Group SE A400M programme but is looking at acquiring other transport planes since the A400M cannot land at small airports, German government sources said on Tuesday.
The government expects to deal with a temporary bottleneck in 2018 and 2019, caused by A400M production delays, through leasing and other bilateral solutions with France, Britain and the United States, the sources said.
The government is also exploring leasing capacity from other countries, or perhaps joint purchase and operating agreements with allies, to augment its expected fleet of 53 A400M planes, the sources said.
Outright procurement of other planes by the German military would also be possible if other plans did not work out, they said.
The sources gave no details about which aircraft would be sought, but German parliamentary and military sources said in March that the German air force was looking at potentially acquiring up to 10 C-130J aircraft built by Lockheed Martin Corp .
Lockheed had no immediate comment.
German government sources said Airbus, Europe’s largest aerospace company, expected to deliver four to six A400M aircraft to the German military this year.
Germany has ordered 53 of the planes from Airbus, but only three planes have been delivered so far due to production delays caused in part by gearbox glitches on the plane’s turboprop engines.
However, neither Airbus nor enginemaker MTU Aero Engines AG expect that current issues with the A400M engine will necessitate a major redesign of the engine, the sources said.
Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag this week that a lack of quality at the MTU turboprop engine consortium for the A400M was one of the main reasons for delays in the programme. (Reporting by Sabine Siebold, writing by Andrea Shalal, Editing by Madeline Chambers and Adrian Croft)
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