Europe’s military transport aircraft manufacturers are making significant export gains and growing their global market share.
Defense and Space says it took the majority of the orders for medium turboprops during the first half of 2014. Airbus argues that an apparent slowdown in orders for aircraft such as ’s Hercules is evidence that governments are taking notice of the airlifter, which the company hopes will attract its first new export contract in almost a decade after Malaysia ordered the type back in 2005.
Airbus wants at least one fresh order for the aircraft in 2014 and a second in 2015 to begin filling production slots for export orders, which are due to become available in 2017.
As part of the sales push, the company has developed an export version of the aircraft which as “complies with ITAR [International Traffic in Arms Regulations],” if the customer is not cleared to receive such systems. The export version removes elements of the crypto system from the aircraft’s communications suite and the more accurate military-grade GPS navigation capability.
Airbus is ramping up production of the A400M and plans to deliver 11 aircraft this year, with MSNs 10/11, both for France, currently undergoing checks by the French DGA procurement agency. The last aircraft due for delivery this year, MSN20 for the U.K., has already been powered up and is undergoing systems testing. The U.K. will also be the first to receive aircraft in Standard Operating Clearance 1, the initial tactical capability which includes defensive aids, and allowing aerial delivery of paratroopers, tactical communications management, combat offloading of vehicles, unpaved runway operations and use of fuel-inerting systems.
Airbus has also secured orders for 20during 2014, and is working to certify a new variant called C295W (W for winglets), following the first flight of the prototype from the company’s Seville, Spain, facility April 11. All C295s delivered from 2015 will be equipped with a reinforced wing ready to take the winglets, although customers may choose not to have winglets installed. They can provide up to 9% improvement in range, around 2,500 nm., compared to 2,300 nm. with a four-ton payload. Fuel economy will also be improved by around 6.5%, the company says.
Part of the market growth for the medium transports may come from the multi-mission capability. Oman has ordered a maritime patrol variant of the C295 and also wants to be able to conduct oil spill dispersal missions with the type. In early June, Jordan announced it wants to convert one of its two existing C295s into a gunship, following ATK’s conversion of two ex-Spanish air force CN235s into AC235s.
Italy is going down a similar road by converting six of itsSpartans into MC-27J Praetorian intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, as well as gunships, although only three will be equipped with the capability at any one time. The first converted aircraft made its first flight in late April.
Although no orders have been taken for the C-27J this year,is building aircraft destined for Peru and Australia and the type is entering service with U.S. Special Operations Command and the Coast Guard.
Lockheed Martin is seeing something of a slowdown for orders for the C-130J. While deliveries have continued apace—most recently to South Korea and Israel—the orderbook for the aircraft has become relatively quiet, although the company is unlikely to be worried. It has a significant chunk of the market and is enjoying a large backlog, thanks to both ongoing orders from the U.S. Air Force as well as Israel, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the company is occupying itself with the update of the aircraft’s civil certification so it can offer a civil version of the aircraft, being marketed as the LM-100J to commercial operators looking to modernize from their existing L-100 fleets.
, of course, is ending production of its Globemaster. It has not yet stated where its 12 “white-tailed” C-17s are destined, but India may have first choice on up to six aircraft to add to its 10, while Saudi Arabia has also expressed an interest in adding C-17s to its transport fleet. Ten C-17s have recently been added to the aircraft register as a precursor to those future sales.
continues with the assembly of the first prototype , following the firming up of a contract from the Brazilian defense ministry for 28 aircraft in late May to replace the country’s aging fleet of older-generation .
A first flight of the prototype KC-390 is expected at the end of 2015, with service entry with theexpected in 2016. Embraer holds letters of intent for a further 32 aircraft from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic and Portugal.