Madrid has awarded Airbus Defence & Space a contract worth almost €1.7 billion ($1.8 billion) to produce 16 C295s adapted for maritime duties.
Announced on 20 December, the deal will supply the Spanish air force and navy with two versions of the twin-turboprop, respectively the maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA).
“These new aircraft will enable the Spanish air and space force and the Spanish navy to strengthen the national anti-submarine warfare capability as well as increase and enhance its surveillance, reconnaissance and search and rescue units,” Airbus’s defence unit says.
To replace already-retired Lockheed Martin P-3 Orions, the C295 MPA will perform anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare tasks, along with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It will be armed with air-launched weapons including torpedoes, and have a Ka-band satellite communications fit. Other features include a tail boom-housed magnetic anomaly detector and sonobuoys for anti-submarine duties.
Airbus says the variant also “can become a flying command and control centre, providing the Spanish armed forces with the versatility to carry out a wide range of missions”.
“The maritime patrol version is the most complex C295 mission configuration to date,” says Airbus Defence & Space chief executive Michael Schoellhorn. He describes the deal as “a major development project that will bring together the latest technologies to provide an operational advantage to our customer”.
Also included in the deal are full flight and mission system simulators, along with an initial logistics support package.
The airframer describes the C295 MSA as “the natural replacement for the CN235 VIGMA aircraft fleet, which has been in service with the Spanish air and space force since 2008”.
The surveillance model will be configured for maritime and over-land duties including “anti-smuggling, anti-illegal immigration and anti-drug trafficking operations”, in addition to search and rescue tasks.
Airbus has not disclosed the orders split between the MPA and MSA variants, with assembly of the modified C295s to be performed at its San Pablo site near Seville.
The company earlier this year said it expected to conclude an order for the assets before the end of 2023.