The Royal Jordanian Air Force has taken delivery of its first Airbus Defence & Space CN235 transport to have been adapted for a light gunship role.
The result of a collaboration between the nation’s King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau and US contractor ATK Defense, the modified AC235 is being exhibited at the 6-8 May SOFEX exhibition in Amman.
Weapons integrated with the aircraft include a side-mounted 30mm cannon, plus four Lockheed Martin AGM-114M/K Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and two pods for BAE Systems 70mm (2.75in) Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System laser-guided rockets, carried using fuselage-mounted pylons. The aircraft also has been equipped with a suite of countermeasures systems for self-protection.
Delivery of the aircraft – which was previously operated by the Jordanian service in the air transport role – followed extensive modifications, including the installation of an ATK mission suite with two onboard operator stations.
The additional crew members will use a synthetic aperture radar and a pair of electro-optical/infrared sensors with laser rangefinders for targeting, and provide “sustained and precise firepower in a variety of scenarios”, says ATK. These include flying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, and providing close air support for ground forces, it adds. Full-motion video can also be streamed from the aircraft’s sensors to ground terminals, using tactical datalinks.
Tests performed in the USA from late last year “included a full suite of aircraft flying qualities, sensor and weapons testing”, says ATK. This process culminated with “accuracy validation completed in March”, it adds.
Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database records the Royal Jordanian Air Force as having had two CN235 transports in storage, carrying the registrations 3210 and 3211 – both originally built for the Spanish air force in 1990. The Jordanian service also currently flies two Airbus C295s in the medium transport role, according to Ascend.
ATK is also teamed with Alenia Aermacchi on the development of a command and control and gunship variant of the latter’s Spartan medium transport. A fully-equipped MC-27J demonstrator – also equipped with a 30mm cannon – is scheduled to undergo a full firing campaign in the USA from next month. The Italian air force is to modify six of its C-27Js to the adapted configuration.