Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Belfast V A400M

I've just been reading about the fiasco of the new European Airlift plane the A400M and was struck by the similarity to the Shorts Belfast. The Belfast was built in the 1970's but seem to be similar in all matters except for range and top end. Both of which would most likely be addressed by modern engines. So while it is impossible to guess at the cost of restarting manufacture surely it would make better sense for the UK to resurrect a capable 1970's aircraft that to line Boeing's pockets and buy more C-17's.
The delays in the A400M are put down to political interference by the people competing to own one. There is surely a need to change European arms purchases so that there is only one political master not several. Various European countries have no problem buying from the US and specifying detail changes. A way needs to be found to have a European ordering body that can speak with one authoritative voice if not an EU or NATO organisation than a single Defence Department. If the UK's MOD has been in charge of its own perhaps the aircraft would not have suited the Germans as well as the A400M was supposed to but it would have been better than no A400M. If the Germans had been in charge then the MOD would probably have grumbled. However the C-17 and the C-130 were designed without input from either and yet they happily fly them. So it should be possible for them to modify an aircraft designed to another specification even if that other is also European.