Airbus & Airbus Military
Airbus military is still hopeful that the South Africa Air Force will order its state of the art A400M airlifter following its cancellation of eight aircraft, citing cost escalation and program me delays. The SAAF has indicated it prefers a three-tier transport solution and Airbus Military hopes the A400M will prevail for the medium and heavy transport requirements .Airbus points out that the A400M will add versatility with an air-to-air refueling capability and palletizedmnaritime patrol mission package being available.
The A400Ms certification program me is moving forward quickly with the three test airframes having racked up 600 flight hours in 180 sorties.
Airbus Military is offering its CN235 and C295 for the SAAFs Light Tactical Transport requirements using airframes that have already proven their worth as maritime patrol platforms.
Airbus announced its civil program me progress and extending its ties with South African partners. The manufacturer has placed some R4 billion contracts with South African suppliers including R500 million on A350XWB and A400M work. Airbus views South Africa as a long term strategic partner and to this end is supporting the development of unique technologies in South Africa for the latest generation of Airbus aircraft. Two South African companies, Aerosud and Cobham Omnipless-will supply Airbus planes with airframe parts and satellite communications systems respectively.
Aerosud has been awarded two additional contracts one to produce Track Cans (components that house the wing flap actuators) and to produce Frame Clips for the A350XWB progamme.The clips are used to secure the carbon composite skin panels to the fuselages skeleton, marking a revolutionary concept in airframe manufacture. In order to manufacture the Frame Clips, Aerosud will establish new production facility employing new production techniques including a thermoform press.
Aerosuds existing parts manufacturing contracts for the A320 Family of single-aisle aircraft have also been renewed. It has been a supplier to Airbus programmes since 2004, designing, engineering and manufacturing numerous aero structure components and cabin installations, including galleys, fuselage and cockpit linings and avionics racks on Airbus civil aircraft. Aerosud is also a full industrial partner on the A400M military transport aircraft which is now in flight test ahead of first deliveries.
Cape Town-based Cobham Omnipless has been contracted to design, develop and supply satellite communications systems for Airbus aircraft .This system also supports in-flight connectivity for crew and passengers.
Hawker T-6 Tours Africa
The Hawker Beech craft Corporations T-6 military trainer recently debuted in Africa as part of a demonstration tour before going on show at AAD in Cape Town .The trip of nearly 9500 miles included stops in Algeria, Gabon, Angola and Namibia with demonstration flights in Nigeria and South Africa.
Upon completion of the African tour, the T-6C military trainer continued on to India to take part of its competition for a new basic trainer.
The T-6 is a primary trainer aircraft that accommodates instruction in instrument flight procedures and basic aerial manoeuvres.The aircraft delivers a training capability that is appropriate for the most basic introductory flight training through more challenging and complex advanced training missions. To date, it has been used to train pilots in approximately 20 different countries.
The T-6 draws its heritage from HBCs T-6 A/B Texan trainer aircraft. Designed to provide close air support and meet the demands of the irregular warfare environment, the T-6 is outfitted with a more powerful engine, a variety of self-protection mechanisms, multiple secure communications functions and advanced intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
Provider Resurrection in Africa
The design of modern aircraft is an extremely costly exercise fraught with challenges. To this end some companies have recently suggested returning certain niche models to production. One such example is the DeHavilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter that has re-entered production as the Viking Air DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400. This company is also proposing the return of the DHC-5 Buffalo.
Another company that sees potential for the return to production of an existing airlifter design is Fleet Wings Aircraft Company of the USA who, in partnership with the South African based Elmer Group plans to return the Fairchild C-123 provider to the skies as the C-123T powered by two Rolls Royce T56-A-15 turboprops of 4,950 shp each. The company is looking to produce the aircraft in Africa, initially rebuilding existing airframes and, should there be a requirement, re-open the production line once more. The C123T will have a 25,000lb payload and a take-off run of just over 1000ft as a 50,000lb MTOW.
Lockheed Martin brought their C-130J-30 to AAD in a bid for an order from the SAAF for new tactical transport aircraft. The South Africa Air Force has been a long time operator of the C-130 but its fleet is rapidly nearing a 2015 end of useful life date. The cancellation by the SAAF of the airbus Military A400M has opened a window of opportunity for several manufacturers to try securing an order to satisfy an urgent three-tier transport fleet requirement.
LM says the aircraft is a “great fit” for the SAAF, fulfilling its transport, maritime patrol and aerial refueling requirements in one airframe with associated cost savings. The combat proven aircraft is in service with several international air arms and is capable of austere strip operations .The worldwide fleet has flown more than 650,000 hours so the C-130J is a no-risk solution for the SAAF.More than 50% of the current SAAF C-130 infrastructure will be retained for J operations.
LM says that, should the SAAF order the C-130J, it could be available as early as 2014 off the production line, fitting in well with the 2015 out of service date of the C-130BZ fleet.
The C-130J-30 that was flown to AAD is from the 143rd Airlift Wing of the Rhode Island Air National Guard unit which is based at the Quonset ANG base. In Dec 2001, the 143rd received its first C-130J-30 .The wings became the first in the Air Force to receive the “stretch” version of the J model. As the most modern tactical airlifter in the world, the C-130J-30 can carry more cargo or personnel farther, faster, and more economically that the c-130E proving its increased airlift capability. The fleet for the 143d was completed with the arrival of the eighth J-model at Quonset on 15 June 2007.
BAE 146M Promoted
BAE Systems has proposed the BAE 146M as a candidate to meet the transport requirements of African Air Forces. There is a ready pool of BAe 146 and AVRO RJ regional aircraft available which the asset management division of BAE Systems says is an ideal choice of aircraft. Several of these aircraft have recently entered service with a number of civilian operators in South Africa. Aircraft would be modified for their military airlift tasks including the fitment of additional fuel tanks, LCD digital avionics suites, steep approach and austere runway operations capability and specialist multirole concepts. Specific military modifications include Kevlar Cockpit armour, and the Directed Infra Red Counter Measures (DIRCM) missile defense system.
Anthony Juma is the Editor and Senior Aviation Director at Wings Over Africa Aviation.
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