Airbus Defense & Space (Airbus DS) Chief Salesman Antonio Rodriguez Barberan recently said the company’s aim is to be present in most military market segments and to be number one or two in each segment. This may seem a tall order, but Airbus DS is apparently well on its way to achieving this with worldwide military products that include 1800 aircraft sold to 70 countries, with 145 operators and over 5 million flight hours accumulated. An ever-growing global footprint is making the products more supportable.
Over the past year or so, Barberan said the A00M has become operational with five air forces (France, U.K., Germany, Turkey, and Spain) and presentations have been made to nine more potential customers, with “serious negotiations underway.” The medium-size military transport aircraft achieved 28 orders in 2014, and 15 more were added in 2015. Airbus expects to maintain its 75% market share in this category long term.
In addition to the primary transport role of the C295 and CN235, these types are being continuously developed to cover other tasks including search & rescue, maritime surveillance, marine pollution control, anti-submarine and surface warfare, and aerial photography. The combined C295 and CN235 market penetration is around 60%. The biggest regional market is Asia Pacific with 140 sales, while Africa and the Middle East have ordered 130 aircraft.
The new C295W features enhanced engine performance and has winglets. These improvements give an 8% increase in range (out to 2300 nmi with a 4-ton load). The winglets provide an aerodynamic gain that translates into a 5.5% fuel advantage on a typical mission. The engine mode upgrade also allows a larger payload from hot and high airfields.
Efforts to further expand applications for this platform have included modifications to allow a fire-fighting role and a version for Special Forces use as a transport or a fire-support gunship. The C295’s capacious cabin allows room for extensive mission systems and displays so that the aircraft can act as a signals intelligence or ground surveillance platform, with specialist sensors and multiple target tracking radar, with communications intercept and jamming equipment.
Modifications to give the C295 more weapons capability in the Maritime Patrol (MPA) and anti-submarine (ASW) roles is underway so that air-launched homing torpedoes and air-to surface missiles can be carried. The C295 and CN235 can both be given a cost-effective MPA or SAR role as they feature high maneuverability at low levels above the sea surface, combined with an endurance of up to 11 hours. The U.S. Coast Guard uses a large fleet of CN235s for law enforcement, border patrols, and para-rescue operations. Special large size bubble windows give excellent visual coverage for crew members, while electrooptical video cameras, including IR, allow all-weather and night operations.
Palletized ISR mission systems can be provided for the C295 MPA/ASW so that the aircraft can be used for transport duties when not required for ISR or MPA duties. If required to provide electronic surveillance, onboard ELINT/COMINT analysis or electronic countermeasures can also be supplied in a very compact package.
Israel’s ELTA has supplied a fourth-generation AESA radar, which has been trialed atop a C295 in an aerodynamic rotating dome for the detection of multiple small and fast targets, giving 360˚ coverage. For the ground surveillance task, the C295 can carry high-resolution SAR/GMTI radar arrays and an EO/IR target designation turret, ESM, ELINT, and COMINT. It would seem that Airbus is keen to exploit every possible combination of ISR and EW mission roles that can carried aboard its C295 and CN235 aircraft.