Flying with accuracy and pride: Airbus gives the Irish Air Corps its second C-295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft

The Irish Air Corps has officially received its second Airbus Defence and Space (DS) C295 transport aircraft configured for maritime patrol operations. This momentous event was announced by the Irish Air Corps on October 17th, as the twin-turboprop touched down at its future home station, Casement Aerodrome (also known as Baldonnel Aerodrome) near Dublin. The delivery of this second maritime patrol aircraft (MPA)-configured C295 comes approximately four months after the arrival of the first C295 at the same location on June 27th. The initial aircraft had made a prominent appearance in the static display lineup at the Paris Air Show 2023 the week before. The decision to acquire the C295 is a significant upgrade for the Irish Air Corps, replacing the two CN235MP Persuaders that had been in service since December 1994. These new C295 MPAs are equipped with Airbus’ Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS), an Ireland-specific mission sensor suite, and Collins Aerospace’s Pro Line Fusion avionics.

The primary role of these C295 aircraft remains surveillance, but they possess the versatility to engage in various tasks, including transport, search-and-rescue (SAR), air ambulance services, and parachute missions. The 1 Operations Wing, 101 Squadron will operate these aircraft, enhancing their operational capabilities significantly. Moreover, Ireland’s commitment to bolstering its aerial capabilities is evident with the order of an additional C295W (winglet) aircraft in December 2022, slated for delivery in 2025. This aircraft is earmarked for troop and cargo transport, special forces operations, medical evacuation, and other specialized tasks, contributing to Ireland’s enhanced defense capabilities. Ireland now boasts two Airbus Defence and Space C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), effectively replacing the two CN235-100 MPAs purchased for the Irish Air Corps in 1994. This transition represents a significant step forward in Ireland’s capacity for maritime surveillance, defense, and various other mission-critical operations.

The recently acquired C295 MPAs come equipped primarily for maritime surveillance, with a particular focus on fisheries protection, significantly enhancing Ireland’s ability to safeguard its maritime interests. These aircraft will also provide the Irish Air Corps with versatile capabilities, including logistics support, troop and equipment transport, medical evacuation, air ambulance services, search and rescue operations, and fulfilling a general utility role, underlining their multi-faceted importance in national defense. In December 2022, a contract worth €55.3 million was awarded to Airbus for a C295W military transport aircraft, expected to be delivered in 2025. This aircraft’s primary role will be for air transport missions, offering the Air Corps an expanded array of services, such as logistics support, troop and equipment transportation, medical evacuation, air ambulance services, Special Operations Forces operations, and fulfilling a general utility role.

Airbus C295 is a medium tactical transport aircraft that was designed and initially manufactured by the Spanish aerospace company CASA. Work on what would become the C-295 was started during the 1990s as a derivative of the successful CASA/IPTN CN-235 transport aircraft. The C-295 can be operated from austere airstrips with minimal reliance on ground support infrastructures; it can reportedly be operated on soft ground without major issues even when heavily loaded. It has sufficient volume to carry up to 71 soldiers, 24 stretchers along with up to seven medical attendants, five standard 108″ pallets of cargo. It is suitable for airdropping paratroopers and cargo on 88-inch-wide platforms. The C-295 has also been designed to facilitate multi-role operations and has been produced in a wide range of configurations. Numerous customers have opted to arm their aircraft to perform intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations, being outfitted with various sensors such as a multi-mission radar unit; it can even be equipped as a gunship and tasked with providing close air support to ground forces.

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