CASA, IPTN and Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems (LMATTS) have been shortlisted to supply the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) de Havilland DHC-4 Caribou replacement.

The Light Transport Aircraft will be a fixed-wing type in the 15-30t maximum-take-off-weight range, capable of continuous operations in typical Australian or regional environments, primarily as a tactical transport. A baseline requirement will be the ability to carry a payload of about 5t over an unrefuelled radius of action of at least 650km (350nm) using tactical flight profiles.

The RAAF is to develop a refined requirement along similar lines to the methodology it used to define its lead-in-fighter requirement, by detailing a task capability which might be filled by a varying number of aircraft, according to capacities.

The expected final requirement will be for 12-18 aircraft, with advanced battlefield-transport capability, including night vision, low-altitude parachute extraction and defensive electronic-countermeasures systems.

CASA will offer two alternatives, the CN-235-300M (Military) with the same 16,000kg maximum take-off weight and 6,000kg maximum payload as those of the standard CN-235-200, and the new, larger, C-295M. Both will have cabin pressurisation increased to 0.38bar (5.5lb/in2), while the C-295M will incorporate a 3m stretch and strengthened landing gear to accommodate a 23t maximum take-off weight including a 9,000kg maximum payload. The new aircraft will be powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127Gs. Wing aerodynamics will be unchanged, and the remainder of the airframe will be common with that of the CN-235 series.

IPTN, also offering a CN-235 variant, has not yet finalised its engine selection (which will be either the existing General Electric powerplant or P&WC PW127), nor has it yet frozen its airframe configuration, to include considerable aerodynamic modifications to wing and fuselage.

LMATTS is offering the C-27J Spartan, re-engined with Allison Rolls-Royce AE2100 turboprops, with a Honeywell glass cockpit.

Full-scale development of the C-27J is expected to be complete within 12 months, with production of the first aircraft to begin in mid-1998. A first flight would follow some 12 months later, with deliveries beginning by the end of 2000.

Other potential customers include Brazil, Israel and Taiwan.

Source: Flight International