Gunship Version of CN-235 Transport Enters Service

 - May 8, 2014, 11:48 AM
The new AC-235 gunship flew in the opening day demonstration at the SOFEX event in Jordan. (Photo: David Donald)

Two Airbus Defence & Space AC-235 light gunships ordered by the Jordanian special operations command have made the type’s public debut at the SOFEX exhibition being held at Marka Airport, in Amman, Jordan, this week. They were recently delivered after modification by ATK. Developed in partnership with Jordan’s King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB), the AC-235 is based on the CN-235 tactical transport, two of which Jordan provided for the conversion.

ATK has designed a mission package for the aircraft that allows it to undertake a range of gunship and ISR missions. The aircraft is fitted with defensive countermeasures, including DIRCM (directed infrared countermeasures) and AAR-47 missile approach warning system, and it has a sensor suite including an L-3 Wescam MX-15 electro-optic turret under the port forward fuselage and Thales I-Master Ku-band synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator in a turret to starboard. A laser rangefinder and designator is boresighted with the electro-optic sensors.

Integrated with the mission system is the AC-235’s cannon, a 30mm ATK M230 link-fed Chain Gun. The weapon is aimed from a left-hand orbit, and is trainable for fine-tuning the aimpoint. This is performed automatically by the mission system, which takes its cue from a designated laser point. ATK developed the gun and a similar palletized system to be fitted in the Alenia Aermacchi MC-27J.

As well as the gun, the AC-235 can carry precision-guided weapons. Stub pylons have been fitted to the undercarriage sponsons, each of which can carry two AGM-114 Hellfire laser-guided missiles, and rocket pods. Just before the SOFEX show it was announced that Jordan is buying the BAE Systems APKWS (advanced precision kill weapon system) for the AC-235. Deliveries to Jordan are to be made beginning in 2016, with the deal being handled through U.S. foreign military sales channels. Naval Air System Command’s PMA-242 is the program manager, and it will also oversee the logistic and engineering support associated with integrating the weapon.

KADDB announced the order for the AC-235 in February 2011, and a first flight of the modified aircraft was undertaken last fall. Trials were conducted mainly from ATK’s facility at Meacham Field, Fort Worth, Texas, and were completed by March. The aircraft are allocated to 32 Squadron of the Jordan special operation command’s 5th Prince Hashim Royal Aviation Brigade.