(Adds Airbus comments)
PARIS, March 29 Indonesia has signed a letter of
intent to buy Airbus A400M military aircraft, French
President Francois Hollande's office said on Wednesday.
The provisional agreement was signed during a visit to
Indonesia by Hollande and covers an unspecified number of
aircraft, according to a list of deals issued by his office.
If completed, it would provide the troubled European
military programme with a second export customer after Malaysia.
A previous deal to export A400M airplanes to South Africa
was cancelled in 2009. Chile was also at one time seen as an
export partner for the aircraft, which has run into billions of
euros of cost overruns and years of development delays.
Hinting at industrial work as part of any deal, the head of
Airbus Military Aircraft, Fernando Alonso, said the aircraft
would form the basis of further industrial co-operation and
could eventually boost the Indonesian Air Force's Mobility Arm -
a type of unit which typically handles troop transport.
At present Indonesia operates Lockheed Martin C-130
transporter planes and Spanish CASA planes built under licence.
Airbus said the letter of intent was signed by Pelita Air,
representing a consortium consisting of state-owned companies.
"Future discussions will address, among other things, the
number of aircraft to be encompassed in an eventual contract and
possible industrial cooperation arrangements," Airbus added.
(Reporting by Cyril Altmeyer, Tim Hepher; editing by Alexander