The Philippines Air Force Airbus C295M fleet is complete. The third and final tactical airlifter landed at Clark Airbase on 11 December 2015, the country’s military confirmed.
Having the third C295M considerably boosts the Philippine Air Force’s (Pilipinas Hukbong Himpapawid; PHH) transport capability. Each of the C295M can carry up to 71 troops. It the airborne role it can carry 48 paratroopers. As medevac aircraft it accommodates up to 27 stretchers. Moreover, with the C295M the PHH has the ability to quickly move around three light vehicles or other cargo.
C295M vs C-130
The big advantage of the three C295Ms compared to the three larger Lockheed C-130 Hercules planes on strength is the smaller size of the Airbus aircraft. Both planes have a good record for relatively short take-off and landing, but tinier airfields are a better option with the two-engine C295M than the larger four engine C-130. The Airbus C295M needs 2,200 feet (670m) of runway to take off, and 1,050 feet (320m) to land. The C-130 normally keeps a safety take-off length of 3,600 feet (1,100 m), although empty it can run from as short as 1,400 feet.
The PHH is likely to use the C295Ms also to patrol and (re-)supply the Kalayaan islands, part of the Spratly Islands that many nations in Asia claim as theirs. The main island, called Pagasa or Thitu island, has been expanded with a short runway and was solely a military installation until 2002. Moreover, the Philippines military needs to move troops around to combat rebel groups in several parts of the country.
220th Airlift Wing
For now the PHH has no reserve crews for the C295Ms, but six pilots (2 for each plane) and a 19-people strong maintenance crew did train in Spain at the Airbus plant in Sevilla for their new job. The C295Ms are part of the new 220th Airlift Wing, which has Mactan-Benito Ebuen Airbase in the central part of the island nation as its main location.
C-130 and Fokker F27
The wing also flies the C-130B, C-130H and L-100-20 Hercules aircraft (220th Airlift Squadron) as well as the three Fokker F27s (F27-200MPA, the F27-200 and the F27-500F) from 221th Airlift Squadron at Ninoy Aquino IAP near the capital Manilla. The 220th Airlift Squadron at Mactan-Benito Ebuen is to gain another ex-US Marines C-130T tanker/transport aircraft.
© 2015 Airheadfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The first Philippines Air Force C295M arrived in March 2015 (Image © Airbus Defence & Space)