The Kazakhstan Air Force is apparently very happy with the Airbus C295. With Summer on the horizon the Asian country ordered another two of these light medium-haul airlifters from the European aircraft giant.
The agreement, which includes a spares and support package, covers the final two aircraft included in a memorandum of understanding signed in 2012. Both aircraft will be delivered in the second half of this year and will take the Kazakhstan Air Defence Forces’ C295 fleet to eight.
Two C295 were already delivered in 2013, number three came in 2014, four in 2015, with five and six delivered after that.
Antonov’s new multipurpose AN−132D took to the skies for its maiden flight last week from the company’s airfield in Kyiv, Ukraine. The new aircraft flew for 1 hour and 50 minutes in the hands of a crew from Ukraine and Saudi Arabia. The AN−132 is being developed in cooperation with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and the Тaqnia Aeronautics Company, both based in Saudi Arabia.
The AN−132D multipurpose turboprop aircraft is intended for operation on short and medium−haul routes. The new aircraft will perform a variety of tasks, such as the transportation bulk cargo and vehicles weighing up to 9.2 tonnes. The aircraft is also suited for para drops.
The next important step will be the presentation of the AN−132D in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which will be conducted after the completion of more aircraft tests, according to Antonov. After last week’s flight, the Center of King Abdulaziz City Science and Technology, emphasised the importance of the project to Saudi Arabia.
Airbus delivered the fourth and final Airbus A400M military transport aircraft to the Royal Malaysian Air Force on Thursday 9 March. The delivery comes exactly two years after delivery of the first A400M to Malaysia.
A Malaysian delegation formally accepted the fourth A400M at the Airbus production facility in Seville, Spain. The aircraft will soon head to Malaysia for participation in the LIMA airshow in Langkawi in Malaysia, which kicks off on 21 March.
Meanwhile, A Royal Air Force A400M this week visited Indonesia during a round the world trip. Indonesia is said to be a potential customer for the A400M.
Latin America’s most exciting aviation “thing” is moving up to WARP speed. The Embraer KC-390 is looking good, flying pre-operational testing missions with Brazilian Air Force (FAB) Northrop F-5Ms.
With the first in-flight refuelling mission and the first dry Wing Air Refuelling Pod (WARP) testing done last month, the Força Aérea Brasileira is understandingly anxious to get this new aircraft into its inventory.
In the near future the FAB’s combat aircraft can be refuelled in mid-air with 90 ft (30m) long refuelling hoses, bringing outposts of Brazil’s vast space within easier striking or air defence reach if ever necessary.
The country’s long reach combat capability has been crippled ever since the country retired the final of its four KC-137s in October 2013. The two KC-130s that could be used for the in-flight refuelling task are in dire need of back-up – especially as they may have to be used for basic transport duty in crisis situations. Being able to equip the 28 production KC-390s on order with WARPs will give the FAB a very nice flexibility, that will be further beefed up by three refurbished-into-tanker KC-767s the country ordered with Israel Aerospace Industries.
Fast jets scenario
As a freighter the KC-390 is already quite an ambitious project for Brazil’s own Embraer, making it the companies heaviest aircraft it ever made. Adding the tanker functionality doubles – or triples – the challenge. Key is not to have turbulence caused by the tanker to mess up the refuelling of the receiving aircraft behind it, and to find a operation speed that works both for the flight performance of the tanker as well as the thirsty fast jets in an operational scenario.
Therefore Embraer has currently two test vehicles for in-flight airborne, with a third being added to the prototype fleet soon. Plans call for the final in-flight refuelling test to be done in November or December 2018, after which at least 2,000 flight hours have been made on these missions alone.
Orders & Versions
Likely to enter service in 2019, Embraer already chalked up orders for 28 KC-390s for the Brazilian Air Force. There’s furhter interest from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic and Portugal, with the latter two already signing a Letter of Intent (LoI) for the purchase of two and six KC-390s respectively.
Also, the Royal New Zealand Air Force seems to be very interested to buy five aircraft. Moreover, the Brazilian Postal Service is thinking about buying 15 civilian versions.
The A400M remains a troublesome program for Airbus, which presentend its annual financial figures on Wednesday 22 February. The company’s profits shrunk by 63 percent to 995 million EUR in 2016, largely caused by continued delays in A400M development and production.
Last year, Airbus paid 2.2 billion EUR in charges over the delays, adding to charges worth billions of euros already paid in the past. Airbus is encountering fresh problems involving the A400M’s capability to carry and drop troops and military equipment.
The A400M is regarded as Europe’s largest defense program, with France, Germany, the UK, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey buying the aircraft to expand their military airlift capability. Germany especially is unhappy customer, reportedly encountering many problems with its A400Ms. So far, Malaysia is the only non-European buyer, although Indonesia now appears to show interest also.
In 2016, Airbus delivered a total of 17 A400Ms, against 11 in 2015. The aircraft manufacturer says it is continuing with improvements in A400M development and production. The company also aims to reduce risks surrounding the program, and furthermore seeks talks with customers to avoid growing charges.