01 April 2015
PAF C-295 aircraft (photo : Timawa)
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) said on Monday its newly-acquired Airbus Military C-295 can be modified and fitted for maritime patrol work.
"It is capable of being fitted with external fuel tanks and pods which can be equipped with sensors and surveillance equipment needed for maritime patrol work," PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya said in Filipino in an interview with the Philippines News Agency
This can be done by fitting pylons to the wings of the aircraft, he added.
Aside from this, the C-295 is capable of staying aloft for 11 hours, making it an ideal maritime patrol platform.
Meanwhile, turnover and commissioning ceremonies for the new aircraft on Monday were headed by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang and Air Force head Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
Canaya earlier said that the last time the PAF acquired brand-new transport planes was in the 1980s when it acquired three Fokker F-27 "Friendship" aircraft from the Netherlands.
"The additional C-295s will enhance the overall capability of the PAF in providing airlift requirements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations," he added.
Lift requirements of the PAF is presently being carried out by three Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" and three F-27s.
The PAF has an existing order for three C-295s at Airbus Military.
The contract, worth PhP5.29 billion, was signed last year.
Training for the first batch of four PAF pilots and 24 maintenance crew was done in Seville, Spain and was completed last March 10.
"Succeeding training for pilots will continue this year in anticipation of the delivery of two more C-295s," Canaya said.
The first C-295 arrived at the former Clark Air Base in Pampanga in the afternoon of March 22. Its arrival is five months earlier than the scheduled August delivery date.
The two remaining planes are expected to be delivered in the last quarter of 2015.
Canaya said the C-295 is categorized as medium lift aircraft equivalent to the Fokker F-27 aircraft being maintained by the 220th Airlift Wing. The C-295s have rear ramp door similar to that of the C-130s for easier access and loading/unloading of passengers and cargoes.
"Thus, it can augment in the type missions performed by the C-130s for lesser payload requirements," the PAF spokesperson added.
He said that the C-295s can carry as much as 71 passengers, 50 paratroops, 24 stretchers with five to seven attendants or up to about 20,000 pounds of cargoes.
It is capable of short field landing and takeoff and has a top speed of 358 miles per hour.
Canaya said the aircraft departed last March 16 from Seville, Spain, where it was assembled. It was flown into the country by civilian pilots and crew of Airbus Military.
Airbus won the Department of National Defense medium lift aircraft program by tendering a bid for PhP5.29-billion for three aircraft last year.
This is considerably lower than the PhP5.3-billion stipulated in the contract.