European aircraft manufacturer Airbus Military announced on Tuesday that it is partnering with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to develop the airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) version of the C295 aircraft. The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect at the Paris air show at Le Bourget.
The C295AEW&C project was announced only last month and the aerodynamic prototype, fitted with a dummy rotodome mounted on pylons above the fuselage, made its first flight early this month. (The C295AEW&C aerodynamic prototype is on static display at the Paris show.)
AEW&C aircraft are basically flying radar stations and command posts, which can detect aircraft at longer ranges and at much lower altitudes than ground based radars, and which can guide fighters to intercept those aircraft – in fact, they can control the whole air battle – as well as undertaking signals and electronic intelligence missions.
In terms of the MoU, the C295AEW&C aircraft will be fitted with a fourth generation Active Electronically Scanned Array radar and integrated Identification Friend or Foe system from IAI’s wholly owned subsidiary, Elta Systems. The two companies are currently carrying out engineering studies on the integration of the radar, other sensors and the rest of the mission suite into the C295AEW&C.
“We see a growing demand emerging for medium size early warning systems and platforms at an affordable price for both air defence and homeland security,” stated Airbus Military CEO Domingo Ureña. “This cooperation between Elta Systems and Airbus Military, which combines the excellent engineering skills and experience of our two companies in their respective fields, will provide the market with a highly efficient and affordable solution, the first in this market segment.”
“The emerging conflicts across the globe are emphasising the importance of special mission [aircraft] fleets,” pointed out IAI Vice President and Elta President Nissim Hadas. “We are sure that, by joining forces, we will offer the market the right solution with the right technology. Airbus Military and IAI/Elta’s superior capabilities in special mission aircraft, advanced sensors and system integration enable us to provide an effective and proven solution for these growing needs.”