Airbus Military has sold five C295 tactical transports and three C295 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to the Royal Air Force of Oman. The contract was signed on May 21 after negotiations that had originally been expected to conclude late last year. Oman is Airbus Military’s first customer for the C295 among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. It is buying the type to expand its tactical transport capability and to improve significantly its maritime capabilities in a region dogged by piracy, smuggling and illegal immigration. The Omani Police already operate the C295’s smaller sibling, the CN235.
Oman’s aircraft will be equipped to accommodate an aerial-dispersal spray kit that has been developed as an option to combat oil spills. The MPAs will be equipped with a new generation of the company’s fully integrated tactical system, which incorporates a number of improvements to make it more user-friendly. The MPAs will also feature search radar and EO/IR sensors, but it is not yet known whether they will be armed. The C295 MPA has six possible wing hardpoints for the carriage of weapons and is already qualified with the Mk 46 torpedo for anti-submarine use. Airbus Military revealed this week that the C295 will undertake trials with the MBDA Marte Mk 2 anti-ship missile, beginning with captive-carry flights in July.
For Airbus Military 2012 is already shaping up to be a good year. Last year the company sold only five aircraft across its product range, but it has taken firm orders for 24 already this year, with other potential customers reportedly nearing signature. Sales for the C295 now total 108 across 13 countries, and 85 aircraft are in service. Among the many opportunities being pursued is Canada’s fixed-wing search-and-rescue (FWSAR) requirement, in which the C295 is competing with the Alenia C-27J.