If you thought that salesperson trash-talk at air shows is exclusively the reserve of Airbus and Boeing these days, think again.
During two otherwise innocuous press briefings at the Singapore air show yesterday, the heat was well and truly turned up on an already simmering rivalry between the manufacturers of the C-27J (below) and C295 medium transports.
Alenia Aermacchi didn’t have anything particularly new to say about the C-27J Spartan, so used their briefing to talk down their main sales rival for being smaller, slower and less cost-effective, and also worse under combat conditions. Confusingly, the Italian company also described its aircraft as “the best-selling medium transport in its category”. While the C295 has sold more, its company doesn’t include those configured for jobs like maritime patrol against its dedicated battlefield airlifter.
Later in the day, the Q&A session at the end of an Airbus Defence & Space presentation provided the opportunity for their representative to defend the C295′s honour.
Commercial director Christian Scherer said he wouldn’t take the bait, but then did, describing the Alenia official’s comments as being “an emotional outburst by a frustrated competitor”. He also pointed to an in-service fleet of more than 160 of the company’s light and medium transports in Asia, versus a current zero Spartans; Australia’s first of 10 was flown for the last time late last year, so that won’t be the case for much longer.
So, why did this all kick off in Singapore? Interestingly, neither company voluntarily mentioned India’s Avro HS 748 replacement contest during their presentations, but were asked to comment on the status of their bids by Indian journalists. Responses to a request for proposals are likely to go in early next month, with the deal previously expected to be for 56 aircraft. For companies used to picking up orders for two or three units at a time, that’s a huge opportunity to secure full bragging rights next time round.
Of course, The DEW Line is fully “platform agnostic”, but which would you want in your air force inventory, folks?