France may sign a formal contract to finance an A400M military transport aircraft deal by the end of 2010, according to Laurent Collet-Billon, head of the Délégation Générale pour l’Armement (DGA).

“Discussions on a draft amendment have made progress recently,” Collet-Billon told a session of the French National Assembly.

Collet-Billon said the goal was to conclude the draft by 5 November, which would allow the document to be signed by the end of 2010.

The first A400M will be delivered to the French Air Force in 2013, he said.

The seven Nato countries, including Germany, France, Spain, the UK, Turkey, Belgium and Luxembourg that are to purchase the Airbus A400M, have reached an agreement to finance €€5.2bn ($7.2bn) of cost overruns.

The A400M development programme is now three years behind schedule, according to