Mexico's air force gets first C-295, as Finland orders another

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Airbus Military has delivered its first of five C-295 tactical transports to the Mexican air force and confirmed the receipt of a follow-on order for the type from Finland.

Mexico's first air force example was accepted in late May, and Airbus Military says a second will follow within weeks.

The remaining three are all scheduled for customer acceptance before the end of 2010, it adds.

 
© Airbus Military

The European company delivered two C-295 transports to the Mexican navy in 2009 and in April handed over the service's first two of four CN-235 maritime patrol aircraft. Equipped with its fully integrated tactical system mission suite, these will be ferried to Mexico within the coming weeks, it says.

Meanwhile, the Finnish air force has ordered a third C-295, one week after it announced plans to equip one of its existing transports with an airborne surveillance payload.

Helsinki received its current two C-295s from 2007, and has picked Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services-Defense to provide surveillance equipment for one under a roughly $100 million deal.

 
© Airbus Military

Also including communications equipment and ground stations, the project will equip the twin-turboprop with "a highly capable system that fulfils their dynamic airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operational requirements", says Lockheed.

Its contract also involves additional US suppliers such as DRS Technologies, L-3 Communications and Rockwell Collins, plus Finnish firm Patria.

To be available for operational use from 2013, the modified C-295 will replace one Fokker F27 signals intelligence-gathering aircraft flown from Tikkakoski air base.

Industry sources say it will be equipped with a pallet-housed SIGINT mission suite based on the open-architecture system demonstrated on Lockheed’s airborne multi-intelligence laboratory: a modified Gulfstream III business jet.

Additional reporting by Luca Peruzzi