European aerospace and defence company Airbus Military has brought its C295 twin turboprop aircraft to South Africa to be demonstrated to the South African Air Force (SAAF) and other branches of the South African National Defence Force. The company is competing to fulfill the SAAF’s requirements for new light transport and maritime surveillance aircraft.
“We’re marketing both the CN235 and C295 but we believe that the C295 is the best aircraft to promote here,” Airbus Military senior VP commercial Antonio Rodríguez-Barberán told Engineering News Online at Air Force Base Waterkloof, Pretoria, on Tuesday. “I believe that the solution based on the C295 is the best. Not only in South Africa. We’re finding interest in this aircraft all over Africa. We’re taking this plane next to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.”
The C295 is a technical evolution of the CN235 – larger, longer, with more powerful engines and more modern avionics, resulting in an all-round more capable aircraft. “The C295 is the only aircraft in its class capable of doing transport, surveillance and maritime patrol,” affirmed Airbus Military VP commercial (Africa) Martin Sefzig, briefing South African media at Waterkloof. The media were also taken on a demonstration flight.
In its transport version, the C295 can carry 71 troops or 50 paratroops or eight containerised delivery systems or five North Atlantic Treaty Organisation-standard pallets. In the medical evacuation role it can accommodate 24 stretchers and seven medical attendants or be fitted with palletised intensive care units (this latter capability is being used operationally by the Spanish Air Force, in Afghanistan).
For the maritime patrol role, it can be fitted with a search radar, an electro-optical and infrared sensor turret, automatic ship identification system (which detects the transponders carried by many vessels today), bubble observation windows, fully integrated tactical mission system and consoles, satellite communications, sonobuoy launchers, magnetic anomaly detectors (the latter two are submarine detection systems), electronic support measures, self-defence systems and hardpoints and pylons for weapons.
The SAAF currently operates another Airbus Military product, the C212 light transport aircraft, and has quite recently retired the sole CN235 it had in its fleet. (This CN235 was the first example ever built, and originally served as the prototype aircraft, before being sold to South Africa. It has reportedly been assigned for preservation at the SAAF Museum.)
“The existing SAAF support infrastructure requires minimum adaptation for the C295,” assured Sefzig. “There is an established Airbus Military support centre in Pretoria [for the SAAF’s current fleet of Airbus Military aircraft]. It would be a logical step – from the C212 to the CN235 to the C295.”