Although born later than the C-130, the C-295 transport aircraft has gained a solid position in the world aircraft market, not only in the military field but also in the commercial sector in more than 20 countries, it is especially loved in some Southeast Asian countries.
In terms of cost, the C-295 approximates a C-130H that costs from 28 to $30 million, but is more modern. Meanwhile, the latest C-130J variant is priced up to $70 million, more than twice the C-295, this created a great opportunity for the C-295 in countries that owned obsolete C-130s and needed to be replaced.
The only disadvantage of C-295 transport is limited transport capacity of just over 9 tons of cargo and can only carry 71 troops, while for C-130H it is up to 20 tons or 64 airborne troops. However, for some countries with small air force, the ability to transport large goods is not really important.
Besides, the C-295 can also be customized into various variants such as marine patrol, electronic combat, air command and early warning or Gunship version. With these advantages, the C-295 quickly gained market share in the world military market after less than 20 years since its first introduction.
The C-295 is currently manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in Spain. The aircraft is a development of the Spanish and Indonesian transport aircraft CASA CN-235, but it retains the basic characteristics of the CN-235 while providing for 50% more payload over the same range and increase the ability to carry troops, five standard pallets or up to 27 stretchers for medical evacuation.
Compared to the CN-235, the C-295 has a longer fuselage, the overall length of the aircraft reaches 24.5m, the wingspan is 25.81m with the wing area is 59 square meters, the height of the aircraft is 8.6m.
The C-295 is equipped with completely new engines, two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprop engines developing 2,645 horsepower each while driving six-bladed propellers. This powerful engine allows the aircraft to reach a maximum speed of 576km/h, cruising speed of 480 km/h, ferry range 5,400km, and service ceiling of 9,100m. The C295 has excellent handling qualities, and its performance characteristics enable use of short, semi-prepared runways.
The C-295 is a fairly conventional design with a tubular fuselage, its rear ramp allows for easy loading of mission pallets, passengers, cargo, and litters for medical evacuation. The highly designed wings allows for good lifting properties and stability in low-level flight. The tail section is raised with a vertical tail fin and the horizontal planes are mounted low, just above the rear slope.
The landing gear are modified to sustain additional weight so that the take-off and landing maximums are equalised in order to allow immediate landing after an aborted take-off. In addition, the twin-wheeled nose gear provides operational improvements on unpaved runways. The wheels are fully retractable.
The flight deck mounted over the short nose providing good views out of the cockpit. The flight deck is fitted with dual controls for the pilot and co-pilot. The aircraft is equipped with fully digital integrated TopDeck avionics suite supplied by Thales. The C-295 is also fitted with a cockpit voice recorder, identification friend or foe system, the flight data recorder and an emergency locator transponder. The aircraft can be fitted with alternative communications and navigational systems to suit the customer country’s operational requirements.
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C-295 has many variants, developed depending on the actual needs of customers. One of them is the C-295 Airborne Early Warning and Command version (C-295 AEW&C), equipped with a large rotodome installed atop the fuselage. This variant has been designed to provide high quality 360-degree surveillance, creating an integrated air and maritime situation picture and electronic order of battle in real time.
There are also other variations like C-295 Maritime patrol version, C-295 aerial firefighting aircraft, C-295 search and rescue aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force, C-295 signals intelligence version, KC-295 tanker aircraft.
C-295 is generally a highly survivable aircraft, with global operations that include missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its agile manoeuvrability and low radar signature are enhanced by fully-integrated missile and radar warning systems, along with a countermeasures dispenser.Since its launch in 2001, C295s have been sold to customers and operators in Algeria, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Finland, Jordan, Poland, Portugal, Spain and some Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Thailand. The production number built reaches 164 units, the estimated unit price for each plane is $28 million.