Airbus Military is to perform a three-month test campaign aimed at demonstrating the C-295 transport’s suitability as an airborne early warning aircraft, the company has revealed.

A C-295 prototype had a dummy rotodome installed above its fuselage at Airbus Military’s San Pablo final assembly site near Seville, Spain, on 17 May. Roughly 6m (19.7ft) in diameter, this will be assessed during flight tests to commence during June, said Miguel-Angel Morell Fuentes, head of engineering.

 C-295 AEW concept - Airbus Military
Artist's rendering © Airbus Military

“We want to see the aerodynamic effects of carrying the rotodome and identify any requirements for fuselage and cooling power changes,” he said. Self-funded study work on the concept started in the second half of 2010, with the rotodome design having been selected due to its ability to provide 360° surveillance coverage.

Windtunnel testing has already been conducted at DNW in the Netherlands using a 1/12th-scale model in two configurations: with and without winglets also installed (below). These could be added later in the flight test programme. Earlier computational fluid dynamics work was intended to find the optimal position and angle for the rotodome to minimise its effect on the transport’s vertical fin.

 C-295 AEW windtunnel - Airbus Military
© Airbus Military

If advanced, the AEW programme could deliver an aircraft with between four and six onboard operator consoles and an unrefuelled mission endurance of 7-8h, according to the company’s early estimates. However, the engineering work so far has not considered possible candidate radar systems for the C-295.

Assessment of the rotodome design could also have utility for any future AEW adaptation of the Airbus A319 or A320, said Airbus Military.