Airbus Military has tested a roll-on, roll-off firefighting system for use on its C295 medium airlifter.

The self-funded development program aims to widen the multi-mission capability and appeal of the twin-turboprop transport.

Early trials conducted at a site near Cordoba, Spain, in October tested how the aircraft reacts when large amounts of water are released.

Since then, the company has conducted further tests using the prototype C295 equipped with tanks in the rear cabin releasing water through doors installed in the aircraft’s belly.

In a firefighting configuration, the aircraft will be fitted with two 3,500-liter tanks in the cargo bay of the aircraft. Although the configuration requires holes to be cut into the aircraft’s fuselage, Airbus Military officials say that the belly-mounted option provides the most effective configuration for water release.

More trials

Further trials undertaken at the end of November saw the aircraft flying seven water drop sorties.

These trials involved the aircraft dropping water into a field containing hundreds of small cups spread over a wide area. These cups collect the water dropped by the aircraft and give engineers an idea of how the water is dispersed when it is dropped, and how effective the drops will be against large-scale fires.

The November trials were conducted in conjunction with France’s Securite Civile agency, which is considered a potential customer of the aircraft, and the Marseille-based Ceren research agency, which works closely with the Securite Civile on forest fire research.

Ceren is now examining the data from the trials and is expected to report its findings to Airbus Military in February.

Several nations have expressed an interest in a firefighting capability for the aircraft, while the French Securite Civile has said that such an aircraft would give the agency the advantage of being able to project its capabilities beyond French borders.