By Pierre Tran
PARIS - Modifications to the contract for the A400M military transport aircraft are expected to be signed in June, said the head of the French Direction Générale pour l'Armement (DGA) procurement office.
"The changes to the contract, which could be signed in June 2010, will fix the details," said minutes of a hearing given by Laurent Collet-Billon to a parliamentary defense committee March 24. Collet-Billon was referring to details of French program payments under a 3.5 billion euro ($4.7 billion) package of financial support agreed to by the seven launch customers
The extra 10 percent cost overrun accepted - 550 million euros excluding tax - will not disrupt the current six-year military budget law, while France's 400 million euro contribution to the export levy facility will come from the general budget, not the Defense Ministry's, he said.
To maintain the integrity of the present defense budget, deliveries of the A400M were delayed and the French Air Force will only have 35 units in 2020, he said.