Airbus Defence and Space has signed an agreement with the Spanish defence contractor EXPAL Systems to configure and integrate the C295W – the newest C295 variant – with the capability to use munitions.
According to an official press release by EXPAL Systems, the contractor will “provide engineering support for the integration of standard weapons such as 70mm rockets as well as MK 80 series warheads.”
Notes & Comments:
According to IHS Jane’s, Airbus signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the 2016 Farnborough Airshow with the Turkish munitions vendor Roketsan to integrate the Cirit 70 mm semi-active laser-homing rocket, UMTAS anti-tank guided missile, and Teber laser and satellite-guided bombs to the C295.
With the EXPAL Systems integration contract, Airbus is evidently moving ahead with its own AC295W-derived gunship configuration (which will be offered in parallel to the joint Jordanian-Orbital ATK model).
This program is a conscious effort to offer an available and financially accessible close air support gunship, especially for the non-NATO and non-Western market (e.g. the Middle East, Far East Asia, and potentially South Asia). Airbus’ selection of Roketsan to serve as the lead munitions vendor (instead of traditional market leaders such as MBDA or Boeing) could help with accessing markets with whom Western vendors may have trouble on political or regulatory grounds. Roketsan may also be more cost-competitive.
Airbus has yet to list to its prospective markets, but an emphasis on the Middle East should be expected, not least because of the fact that several powers – e.g. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – are currently engaged in counterinsurgency operations. Pakistan may also be viewed as a potential market as it too has been engaged in an ongoing campaign in its northwest frontiers.