Airbus Defence and Space is seeing strong interest from Middle East and North African nations for the heavily armed ISR/strike variant of its C295 tactical transport.
The manufacturer will soon deliver the first two "light weaponised" versions of the C295 to an unnamed customer. In that version, the C295 is fitted with a palletised mission console, multi-mode radar, machine guns mounted at the rear paratrooper doors and an electro-optical/IR turret.
At Dubai, however, Airbus is showing off a range of weapons that will be integrated into its heavy weaponised C295, including the Roketsan CIRIC and LUMTAS missiles, as well as the TERBER 82 laser-guidance kits for Mk 82 bombs. The munitions will be externally mounted on four hardpoints.
It is also showing a Rheinmetall 27mm autocannon and door gun system, which can be controlled from the Fully Integrated Tactical System within the aircraft. A second EO/IR sensor will also allow for both surveillance and weapons targeting.
Miguel Candeal, marketing manager for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft at Airbus Defence and Space, says the aircraft’s up to 10h endurance and impressive weapons payload makes it a good alternative for Middle East nations to smaller strike aircraft in certain missions.
“There is a lot of interest in this region to have a heavily armed ISR aircraft,” he says, adding that other nations in Asia have shown more interest in the light armed version.
Ground testing of the heavily armed C295 is set to begin before summer 2018, with the first flight tests set to start in October of that year, and a number of representative flight tests completed by the summer of 2019.
Candeal says the delay in getting the aircraft into testing is due to the testbed aircraft being used for development work on Canada’s search-and-rescue configured C295s.
Alongside the armed C295, Airbus is showing off a surveillance and maritime patrol variant that will be delivered to Saudi Arabia’s General Security Aviation Command. Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that it already operates one of the type, out of an order for four placed in 2015.