One thing that everyone is forgetting
is that the role of a "Tactical" lift aircraft is to fly into a danger area, drop like a stone to the runway, unload as much cargo as feasibly possible and get the hell out before being shot out of the sky by the nearest militant carrying a MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defence System) and considering how prolific MANPADS and rocket propelled grenade launchers are this is a big requirement.
The A400M is designed as a Tactical lift aircraft so making any comparison to the C17 Strategic Lifter is completely disingenous.
Making the direct comparison to the C130 then the A400M comes out superbly from an operational point of view. Its faster with a higher flight ceiling (so it can get to its destination faster then the C130 and at a height which will take it out of range of all but the most advanced SAM systems), it can land and take off on unprepared and very short runways (same as the C130 and if im not mistaken shortfield performance is even better in this than C130 in this regard) AND it can carry 50% more then the C130. Just looking at it in that regard you have an aircraft which severely outstrips its competitor in all the ways that those planning the mission are interested in.
On top of that it has a few special neat tricks (like inflight refuelling of fighters, and a range which means it can help out on shorter strategic lift routes) and it means you have an aircraft thats versatile and is unlikely to spend large amounts of time waiting for a tactical lift job to come up.
OK the cost at present is high, but i would question some of LP's figures - and making any sort of claim about inservice costs when the aircraft has never been flown in anger before is a bit ridiculous.
My final question for you all is since when did military items begin being purchased based on price rather then ability/survivability? If that were the case the Harrier would never have been developed and in fact why have any new aircraft/ship/tank the olds ones are known and cheap and parts are available - surely there better options then developing something new and more capable...