Airbus Military is studying possible new variants of its CN-235 and C-295 medium transports adapted for tasks including combat support and battlefield surveillance, along with performance enhancements for the latter type.
Revealing the company’s investigation of a gunship development, head of market development for light and medium transport aircraft Jerónimo Amador says: “We have seen a growing interest from customers.” This has been prompted by a need to perform counter-piracy operations, participate in low-intensity conflict and provide protection for critical national infrastructure, he adds.
Amador confirms that Airbus Military has held talks with ATK over the US company’s work to modify two ex-Spanish air force CN-235s as gunships for Jordan, and that it is “looking for a partner to allow us to offer an efficient solution”.
Aircraft could be manufactured in a dedicated armed reconnaissance and combat support configuration, to include an electro-optical/infrared sensor, fuselage-housed 30mm (1.2in) cannon and potentially laser-guided rockets and missiles. A surveillance radar could also be carried, along with intelligence-gathering equipment and up to four onboard operator stations. Alternatively, customers could be offered elements of this system as a removable kit.
Potential customers exist in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, Amador says.
Other applications now being considered for the C-295 include a model equipped with a ground surveillance radar and up to eight onboard operator workstations, a signals intelligence-gathering development and a VVIP transport. Airbus Military is also eyeing a palletised kit, which would enable the aircraft to serve as an inflight refuelling platform for combat helicopters.
Meanwhile, Amador says near-term enhancements to the aircraft could include aerodynamic improvements – winglets were considered as part of a proposed airborne early warning and control system version being offered with Elta Systems – and using more power from its Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G engines. The latter move could boost the type’s rate of climb and cruise speed and offer increased mission flexibility, he says.
This article was posted by Neptune Maritime Security via flightglobal.com. MaritimeSecurity.Asia in cooperation with www.neptunemaritimesecurity.com