Air Transportation: Instant Aerial Tanker


November 7, 2016: The Airbus C295 military transport was recently tested using its new aerial refueling capability. This is accomplished using a kit, on pallets, that enables a C295 to quickly be equipped so that it can use the hose-and-drogue aerial refueling system (the most common one in use) to service helicopters, UAVs or any aircraft that can do so at about 200 kilometers an hour (the slowest speed of the C295). The palletized fuel tanks would also enable the C295 to land in a combat zone airfield and refuel ground vehicles or aircraft on the ground. It takes a few hours or less to install or remove the palletized refueling equipment. You also need a trained boom operator.

This is part of an AirBus effort to develop and test more new optional features for its popular C295 transport. This includes a joint effort with Turkey to develop the electronic and mechanical components needed to turn a C295 into a gunship using three Turkish made smart weapons (a 70mm laser guided missile, a larger laser or infrared sensing guided similar to Hellfire and a laser guided bomb kit (similar to the U.S. JDAM) that turn an unguided bomb into a laser guided one. Another recent enhancement enables the aircraft to land and take off on smaller airfields, for customers who already use the C295 for special operations missions.

The C295s entered service in 2001 and are manufactured in Spain. C295 is a 23 ton twin engine turboprop aircraft that can carry six tons for up to 2,200 kilometers. Top speed is 570 kilometers an hour and max payload is nine tons or 71 troops. Users report that the C295 is easy to maintain, stands up well to daily operation over long periods and copes with hot and dusty conditions. So far over 220 C295s have been ordered by 20 countries. There are a number of similar transports available so manufacturers have to be creative to get their aircraft to stand out from the others.


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