On June 6 Airbus Defence and Space’s Military Aircraft division handed over the first of three C295 medium transport aircraft to the Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana. The service ordered the aircraft for a range of military and humanitarian transport missions and will use them to support populations in remote and mountainous regions of the country. All three C295s are to be delivered before the end of the year, and their arrival will allow the last elderly Avro 748s to be retired.
With this order the Ecuadorian air force joins the country’s army and navy in operating Airbus products. The army flies pairs of CN235s and C212s, while the naval air arm has two CN235s. To support the new C295s, Ecuador has signed a FISS (full in-service support) package with Airbus Defence and Space.
With more than 140 aircraft sold, of which 40 have been in the last two years, the C295 has become a best-seller for Airbus Defence and Space in terms of aircraft numbers, and continues to gain the majority of the medium transport/special-mission market. In the last 12 months 30 aircraft have been sold, including repeat orders from Colombia, Egypt and Kazakhstan. This year alone Airbus Defence and Space has taken orders for 20 , comprising the three for Ecuador and a similar number for Vietnam. Sales of 14 aircraft to undisclosed customers consist of eight for a “Maghreb” country, and two three-aircraft orders for the Middle East.
Airbus Defence and Space continues to promote the C295 as a special-mission platform, for roles such as firefighting, maritime patrol, Sigint/ISR, AEW, VIP transport and oil-spill dispersal. The latter role is undertaken using the Nimbus spray kit, which has been ordered by Oman. The first ISR version has been ordered a Latin American country, possibly Colombia.
Another role envisioned for the C295 is that of gunship for special-operations support. Airbus is currently in discussion with industrial partner ATK and a customer in the Middle East, and an announcement about this program could be made “soon.” ATK and Airbus have recently partnered to deliver two gunship versions of the smaller CN235 to the Jordanian Special Operations Command.