Big decisions are made in New Delhi these days. Apart from a giant deal with Russian Helicopters, the Defence Acquisition Council said “yes” on Wednesday 13 May to the Airbus-TATA offer to replace the Hawker Siddeley 748 aircraft with the Airbus C295 medium airlifter.
A total of 56 Avro aircraft – licence-produced in the sixties by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) – are to be replaced. Sixteen of the aircraft will be bought directly from the former CASA – now Airbus – plant in Spain, while TATA Advanced Systems and the Indian Production Agency (IPA) will locally produce the other 40 twin-propeller aircraft under license.
The Philippine Air Force is expecting the arrival of its first Airbus C295 tactical airlifter in March 2015, according to the country’s Undersecretary of Finance Fernando Manalo in a statement to the national news agency.
If the twin-engine turboprop aircraft, designed by Spanish CASA before it became EADS and later Airbus, indeed arrives it will mark an early delivery. The Philippine Air Force didn’t expect the plane to arrive before August this year.
The Airbus C295 is a modern and small airlifter developed from the CASA CN235, able to carry up to nine tonnes of payload or up to 71 personnel, at a maximum cruise speed of 260 kt /480 km/h. Fitted with a retractable landing gear and a pressurised cabin, it can cruise at altitudes up to 25,000 ft, while retaining relative good short take-off & landing (STOL) of no longer than 670 m (2,200 ft) from unprepared short, soft and rough airstrips, as well as low level flight characteristics.
The Pacific island nation is expecting another two C295s later this year, as part of the reinforcement program of the Philippine armed forces.
The Ecuadorian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana) received the first of three new Airbus (EADS / CASA) C295Ms on 7 August 2014. The plane was escorted by two of the FAE’s Super Tucano light attack aircraft on its way in to Eloy Alfaro de Manta Airbase.
The plances replace the Avro (Hawker Siddeley) HS748 with No. 1112 Squadron, after the HS748 has served the Latin American country for more than 40 years. With the new C295M (FAE-1030) arriving, one of the HS748s discharged of its duties shortly after the arrival ceremony.
Just before the end of July Brazil signed a deal with Airbus Defence and Space for the purchase of three Airbus (fka EADS / CASA) C295 search and rescue aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force. The trio will join the Força Aérea Brasileira’s (FAB) existing fleet of 12 C295 tactical airlifters.
In addition to the aircraft fleet, the FAB is also using a Full Flight Simulator for the C295 at the Air Base of Manaus-Brasil, that allows it complete autonomy in the training of its crew.
More than 140 C295s have now been ordered by 19 countries.
The French intervention force in the Central African Republic (CAR) executing Operation Sangaris has a permanent air bridge at its disposal that operates between Libreville in Gabon and Bangui-M’poko in the CAR.
The aircraft are a Lockheed C-130 from l’Escadron de Transport 02.061 Franche Comté marked 61-PD and a CASA/EADS/Airbus CN235M-200 of l’Escadron 03.062 Ventoux from French Air Force Base BA110. They are in theatre since 6 December 2013, when they moved a paratrooper company of the 6th Marine Infantry Battalion (6eBIMa).
The French Ministry of Defence confirmed the existing air bridge on 11 December 2013. Apart from the two transport aircraft the French Air Force supports Sangaris with six Rafale fighters and a C-135 tanker flying from N’Djamena in Chad, plus two AS555 Fennec (5534/WJ an WD) light utility and scout helicopters. The French Army Aviation has fielded at least 4 Puma transport helicopters (DDU, DCL, DBO, unknown markings), plus 2 Gazelles light utility and scout helicopters.
Airlift of supplies and material into the African theatre from Europe was supported again by a British Royal Air Force C-17 Globemaster III flight on 11 December 2013, the second time since the French launched operation Sangaris in Central Africa. Like the first time, the RAF C-17 flew vehicles from Istres Airbase near Marseilles to Bangui-M’Poko.
The French intervention force will eventually be 1,600 troops strong and is backed by the United Nations. It has a mandate to last well into 2014. The air bridge from Gabon has officially been added to taskforce Épervier – the French armed forces expeditionary unit that runs French ground operations and protect French interests in Chad (Operation Épervier) and Mali (Operation Serval) as well.