The French air force has formally taken delivery of its first Airbus Military A400M airlifter.

The much-delayed handover is a historic moment for the A400M program, which has been in development in different forms since the early 1990s. DGA, the French defense procurement agency, gave the green light for the delivery on Aug. 1, following the signing on July 31 of the type’s military operating clearances by Occar (Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation), the European agency working on behalf of the A400M customer nations to deliver standard clearances for the new transport aircraft. DGA gave the aircraft a French military type certificate on July 24.

The first French air force A400M, aircraft MSN7, will be flown to the Orleans-Bricy air base on Aug. 2, where part of the service’s A400M fleet will be stationed. According to Airbus Military, the aircraft will initially be used for aircrew training.

Airbus Military had hoped to have the first aircraft delivered to the French air force on July 12, just in time for it to take part in the Bastille Day flypasts over Paris on July 14. However, one of the development aircraft, MSN3, had to take its place. An official ceremony to celebrate the delivery will take place after the summer break, at the company’s facility in Seville, Spain.

Airbus Military still is working on the development of some of the aircraft’s critical capabilities, such as air-to-air refueling and tactical flying, which will evolve progressively in a series of five standard operational capability releases, the first of which will be delivered later this year. Five of the development aircraft are being devoted to the development of these standards.

The French air force also is due to receive its second A400M, MSN8, in the coming months. A single aircraft, MSN9, also will be delivered to the Turkish air force this year. MSN10 also is destined for France.