Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A400M

Should EADS pull the plug on the troubled A400M military transport? The New York Times thinks so. Indeed, if the A400M goes down, Europe can simply buy its heavy-lifting capability from the US, and in return Congress and John McCain might, in their infinite wisdom, relent in their opposition to buying aerial tankers from the Europeans. Win-win. But if, as the Times notes, the A400M was "always a political airplane," that hardly distinguishes it from every other military aircraft project on record, so caution is in order. Still, Europe's bargaining position is weak: the A400M doesn't fly (yet), and without more money to fix its problems, it probably never will.

And as everyone knows, the only thing stopping Europe from getting right in there and mixing it up with bad guys around the world is the lack of a heavy-lifting capability ... right? Of course depriving oneself of capabilities with the potential to make trouble down the road is also "always a political" matter. Remember Ulysses and the Sirens? Europe has perhaps tied itself to the mast lest the Sirens tempt it into unleashing the dogs of war.

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