BERLIN, May 8 (Reuters) - A confidential report by the German Defence Ministry has warned that technical challenges and contractual wrangling with Airbus could impair full operational use of Europe's A400M military transport plane.
"Given the under-financing of the programme and the expected demands for delay-related damages, Airbus will not make the needed investments to carry out required improvements," said the report, seen by Reuters. "The operational use of the plane is therefore in jeopardy."
The report said Airbus could ask for delays of 12-18 months to resolve those issues, such as defensive measures and the ability to deploy paratroopers, as part of its latest negotiations with seven NATO countries involved in the 20-billion-euro ($21.9 billion) project, Europe's largest defence venture.
Asked about the report, an Airbus spokesman said the A400M programme had made significant progress over the last year. ($1 = 0.9145 euros) (Reporting by Sabine Siebold; writing by Andrea Shalal; editing by Tim Hepher and Alexander Smith)