The French air force will field a further eight CN-235 tactical transports from late next year to partially compensate for the delayed introduction of its larger Airbus Military A400Ms.
Signed by France's DGA procurement agency, the €225 million ($305 million) follow-on deal will boost the air force's CN-235 fleet to 27 aircraft, the service says.
The move is "a transitional measure until the arrival of the A400M", and will enable the service to relieve the burden on its current CN-235s, Dassault-Breguet C160 Transalls and Lockheed Martin C-130Hs, it adds. France will receive a total of 50 A400Ms, but its first example is now not expected to be handed over until around late 2012 - three years late.
"Delivery of the newly ordered CN-235s will begin in the middle of next year," says Airbus. The last of the additional -300-model aircraft should be accepted for use by mid-2013, the air force says. Airbus will also provide in-service support for the General Electric CT7-9C-powered transports under the terms of its contract.
© French air force
France received its first CN-235 in 1991 and accepted its last aircraft from a previous order in 2003.
Airbus Military builds the CN-235, C-295 and C-212 transports in a hangar adjacent to its A400M final assembly line in San Pablo near Seville, Spain.