Canada is set to close a tender for a new Fix Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft on 11 January. Making a bid are FNM Aeronautics (formerly Alenia Aermacchi) with its C-27J Spartan, Airbus with its C295 and reportedly, Embraer with its yet-to-finish-development KC-390. Also, Lockheed Martin wil probably pitch its C-130J Super Hercules.
The closing of the tender marks the beginning of a selection in which the Brazilian KC-390 is definitely an outsider with a marginally chance of winning. The new aircraft should replace ageing de Havilland CC-115 Buffalos and Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules aircraft needed for other tasks.
The CC-115 has been in service for nearly five decades, providing long range SAR coverage over vast empty oceans and vast empty stretches of Arctic ice. The new aircraft is to do exactly the same.
Canada’s quest for an FWSAR aircraft has been a prolonged one. It started in 2004 and should have materialized into a ready aircraft in 2009. For various and mainly political reasons, that never happened.
The new type should be selected later in 2016 and deliveries are to start in 2018 with completion in 2023. A number of 17 aircraft has been mentioned, but it remains to be seen wether that will actually be the number on the final contract.
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.
Ghana is to order four additional Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack, counter-insurgency and training aircraft from Brazil, according to Ghanaian Air Force’s Air Vice Marshal Michael Samon-Oje. More new aircraft are on their way.
The high-ranking officers confirmed on Accra Airbase this week that its country will gain a second batch of the Super Tucanos, following a 2015 order for five A-29s, and that negotiations with Brazil are ongoing.
Third Ghana Airbus C295
As we reported earlier Ghana is upgrading its military. Apart from the five Harbin Z-9EH helicopters received in October this year, a third Airbus C295 tactical airlifter is soon expected. Six additional Mil Mi-17 tactical transport helicopters are on order in Russia, to complement the current seven “Hips”.
After the four remaining Aermacchi MB-339 aircraft were placed in storage in 2014, the Ghanaian Air Force has no fixed-wing combat element until the entry into service in 2016 of the first five Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos.
For the past two weeks, Beja airbase in Portugal was the scene of multi national exercise European Air Transport Training (EATT15), organized by European Defence Agency (EDA) and European Air Transport Command (EATC). In other words: C-27J Spartan and C-130 Hercules galore in Portugal. This is Red Flag for the big guys.
Taking part in EATT15 were Portugal, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK, as well as observer countries Brazil, the United States and Poland. Next to C-27Js and C-130s, also present at Beja were Airbus C295s and C-160 Transall aircraft. In total, 20 transport aircraft and 2,500 military personnel were involved, not counting in three Portuguese Air Force F-16s and a sole P-3C Orion.
The EATT15 aims to train and prepare the crews of tactical airlift squadrons in order to guarantee their readiness for all kinds of operations within the European alliance. The concept of the exercise is to “provide joint training and ensure interoperability among the participating forces”, said Lt. Col. Laurent Donnet, overseeing EATT15 on behalf of the Belgian Air Component.
During the exercise, crews trained for various scenarios, such as operations to and from unprepared air strips, Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR), extraction of military and non-military elements, medical evacuations, plus air support in an urban environment and emergency situations.
During EATT15, crews used the Airdrop Joint Precision System (JPADS), a US military airdrop system using GPS, an onboard computer and steerable parachutes to direct cargo to a designated impact point.
EATT15 was also about efficient use of logistics, tooling and spare parts. The proximity of similar aircraft types and their crews allowed for standardization of procedures, exchange of know-how as well as the fostering of a spirit of unity. This spirit is embraced by European Air Transport Command (EATC), the institution directing and overseeing operations of hundreds of European military transport and tanker aircraft. The latter had their own exercise earlier this year.