This year should prove to be a momentous one for the Airbus Military A400M. On the last day of April, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) granted the multinational airlifter–also dubbed the Grizzly–its initial type certification shortly after the five-aircraft test fleet had notched up the type’s 1,000th flight.
Boeing and Embraer announced an extension of their April collaboration agreement on commercial aviation to the KC-390 airlifter program. The pair said they would “share some specific technical knowledge and evaluate markets where they may join their sales efforts for medium-lift military transport opportunities.” Boeing may help sell the KC-390 to “potential customers that had not been considered [as] initial market prospects,” they added.
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 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) chose the Alenia C-27J Spartan to replace a fleet of 14 DHC-4 Caribou STOL airlifters that have already been retired. The 10-aircraft deal will be conducted via the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system, with L-3 acting as the prime contractor. Alenia and L-3 formed a partnership to sell the C-27J to the U.S. armed forces. The RAAF also evaluated the EADS CN-295 for the Air 8000 requirement.
The Airbus Military A400M is spreading its wings, as the once-troubled program makes progress toward first delivery early next year. The airlifter went to South America last month and Southeast Asia this week, for viewing by potential customers. The company said last November that it hopes to sell about 300 A400Ms over the next 20 years, and that the first production slots for new customers are available in 2016-17.
Russian Air Force commander Gen. Alexander Zelin has elaborated further about aircraft acquisition plans under the country’s Weapons Program 2011-2020. His comments addressed the Sukhoi series of combat aircraft, as well as airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, airlifters and the Yak-130 jet trainer. Zelin said that the air force will acquire about 60 Sukhoi PAKFA (T-50) fifth-generation fighters by 2020.
Lockheed Martin is offering to reduce the price of the C-130J Hercules by stripping out some of the more expensive systems. The U.S.-built airlifter is facing new competition later this decade, when Embraer’s yet-to-fly KC-390 becomes available.
The C-27J Spartan twin turboprop, selected by the U.S. Army in 2007 to provide intra-theater airlift support in austere environments such as Afghanistan and shifted to Air Force jurisdiction two years later, now faces early retirement to the aircraft “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona.
Airbus Military has begun final assembly of the first production A400M, slated for the French Air Force. The company says that delivery of this aircraft (MSN7) is on schedule for the first quarter of 2013, thanks to good progress in the flight-test program.
Airbus Military has delivered the first of four CN235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft to Mexico, and the first of two C295 medium airlifters to Ghana.