Airbus Military has revealed plans to flight-test several further enhancements for its C295 medium transport and special mission aircraft. These will include the addition of efficiency-boosting winglets and an anti-ship missile.
Outlining the company's objectives for the next 12 months, head of engineering Miguel-Angel Morell says the company will also look to test the integration of head-up displays linked to an enhanced vision system, and to fly with an onboard inert gas generation system (OBIGGS) intended to boost the twin-turboprop's battlefield survivability.
Introducing MBDA's Marte anti-ship missile with the C295 could satisfy a market demand to counter the growing threat posed by piracy, Morell said at Airbus Military's Getafe site, near Madrid, Spain, on 21 May. The company will first fly with an inert weapon before August to assess its aerodynamic effects on the transport, before progressing to release trials and finally dropping a live weapon. "Our aim is to complete all the work this year," he says.
The Chilean navy has already acquired C295s armed with Mk 46 torpedoes to meet its anti-submarine warfare requirements, and Morell says the Marte missile will be integrated using an adapted version of the same launcher.
Flight tests with an OBIGGS installation in the wing fuel tank should be performed in the fourth quarter of this year, with ground testing of the equipment having already been completed. "Our aircraft are operating in difficult environments," Morell notes.
A demonstrator aircraft will also be flown in early 2013 with winglets. These should increase aircraft performance in take-off, climb and cruise, and could be offered as a retrofit option for in-service versions. Then, by the middle of next year, the C295 should also be flown with head-up displays and an enhanced vision system installed.
"All these new systems are demanded by our customers," Morell says.
C295 model with winglets in a wind tunnel test
Airbus Military is meanwhile continuing development activities linked to an airborne early warning and control system version of the aircraft being offered with Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary Elta Systems. The companies have held preliminary discussions with three potential customers for the proposed new variant.
Elsewhere, Airbus Military is also studying a possible gunship version of the C295 and smaller CN235, plus enhancements to its fully integrated tactical system mission suite integrated across its product range.