Venezuela has signed a delayed deal with EADS Casa for 12 transport and maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) worth $590 million, despite US opposition to the transaction. Signed late last month, the sale covers the supply of 10 C-295 tactical transports and two C-235MPAs, plus options on six more C-295s.

US government officials had expressed concern over the sale since it was first proposed late last year. Washington views Venezuela as a potential threat to neighbouring countries, and the Bush administration believes the transport aircraft could enhance the Latin American country’s ability to deploy troops rapidly in cross-border operations.

In an effort to block the deal, the USA signalled its intention to oppose the transfer of dual-purpose technology used in the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G and General Electric CT7-9C3 engines which, respectively, power the C-295 and CN-235 platforms, as well as avionics equipment used in both aircraft.

However, Spanish defence minister José Bono defended the sale during the late November contract signing, suggesting it complied with international regulations and noting: “Is it necessary to explain that a transport [aircraft] is not a bomber?”

Deliveries are expected to start in mid-2006, with the CN-235s to be equipped with EADS Casa’s FITS maritime surveillance system and the C-295s to replace part of the Venezuelan air force’s current fleet of Alenia G222s.

Source: Flight International