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The military division of Airbus is on schedule to deliver its first A400M airlifter in December to France's Air Force, company officials said Monday.
The A400M made its debut in the Americas when it landed at the Santiago airport as the 17th biannual Air and Space Show, or FIDAE, gets under way.
Before landing, the A400M multirole tactical and strategic turboprop plane showed off its maneuvering prowess by taking a pass around the airfield before landing. As it made its way to its parking spot on the air show tarmac, it received by a water shower from several fire trucks, in what a Chilean Air Force pilot called "a baptism tradition."
Several Airbus Military executives--including Domingo Urena, chairman of the aircraft manufacturer's military division--were on hand to receive the plane.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference, Urena said France's Air Force would take delivery of the first A400M in December.
Airbus, a subsidiary of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. (EAD.FR, EADSY), has commitments to deliver several A400Ms to France next year and expects to build some 400 planes in total.
It has orders with several countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, including Germany, the U.K., Belgium and Spain, to build 174 plans, but it has yet to sell this multirole plane in the Americas.
Antonio Rodriguez, Airbus Military sales vice president, said the company had been in talks with Chilean armed forces but that there wasn't any commitment yet to buy this plane.
The A400M competes with Lockheed Martin Corp.'s (LMT) C-130 Hercules, but according to Airbus Military's Gustavo Garcia, the European-built aircraft has double the payload of the Hercules.
"Any operator of a C-130 is our potential client," he said, noting that the so-called Hercules has now been in production for over 50 years.
-By Carolina Pica, Dow Jones Newswires; 56-2-715-8919; firstname.lastname@example.org