The first Airbus C295, purchased by the Government of Canada for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) Fixed Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft Replacement (FWSAR) program, has completed its maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards delivery by the end of 2019 to begin operational testing by the RCAF. The aircraft, designated CC-295 for the Canadian customer, took off from Seville, Spain, on 4 July at 20:20 local time (GMT+1) and landed back on site one hour and 27 minutes later.
FWSAR program facts and figures
The contract, awarded in December 2016, includes 16 C295 aircraft and all In-Service Support elements including, training and engineering services, the construction of a new Training Centre in Comox, British Columbia, and maintenance and support services.
The aircraft will be based where search and rescue squadrons are currently located: Comox, British Columbia; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Trenton, Ontario; and Greenwood, Nova Scotia.
Considerable progress has been made since the FWSAR program was announced two and a half years ago: the first aircraft will now begin flight testing; another five aircraft are in various stages of assembly; and seven simulator and training devices are in various testing stages.
In addition, the first RCAF crews will begin training in late summer 2019 at Airbus’ International Training Centre in Seville, Spain.
The FWSAR program is supporting some $2.5 billion (CAD) in Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) to Canada, through high-value, long-term partnerships with Canadian industry.
As of January 2019, 86 percent of key Canadian In-Service Support (ISS) tasks have been performed in-country by Canadian companies in relation to establishing the FWSAR ISS system. Airbus is thus on track in providing high value work to Canadian industry and has demonstrated a successful start to the development and transfer of capability to Canadian enterprises for the support of the FWSAR aircraft.
Beyond direct program participation, Airbus is generating indirect business across Canadian military, aeronautical and space industry including Small and Medium Businesses in support of the ITB program.
On 2 July 2019, the Directorate General of Armament (DGA) received the second A330-MRTT Phénix multi-role tanker aircraft (MultiRole Tanker Transport) at Air Base 125 in Istres. This aircraft was delivered to the Air Force three months early and with a first MedEvac (Medical Evacuation) capability, so as to reach full operational capability in the fall.
It will allow medicalized transport of a dozen very seriously injured patients, or the medical transport of 40 lightly-injured patients requiring less medical assistance.
The MRTT Phénix is based on the airframe of the Airbus A330 airliner, militarized to allow it to meet its specific mission requirements: support of the air component of the nuclear deterrent; contribution to the permanent security posture; projection of forces and medicalized transport in case of emergency medical evacuation.
Thanks to its versatility, the MRTT Phoenix replaces two distinct fleets for this entire range of missions: the current in-flight refueling fleet of C135-FR and KC135R, and the strategic personnel and freight transport fleet of A310 and A340.
The military programming law 2019-2025 provides for the acceleration of the modernization of the equipment of the forces, and in particular of the tanker aircraft fleet. It will bring forward to 2023, two years earlier than planned, the delivery of the first twelve aircraft, and creating the conditions allowing a subsequent increase of the fleet to fifteen aircraft in following years.
Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomes this early delivery: «The Phoenix is an essential aircraft for the French forces, and for and our deterrence. It will replace aircraft, some of which are 60 years old, and represents a real revolution for the Air Force. Its versatility makes it a technological marvel, and it is an undeniable industrial success and an example of what a great European company – Airbus – knows how to build».
Airbus has successfully completed a flight demonstration of a connected airborne battlespace scenario, centred on a Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. The test was carried out as part of the development of Airbus’ Network for the Sky (NFTS) programme. This follows on from last August’s demonstration in Canada of secure mobile communications using a stratospheric balloon to simulate a High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS), such as Airbus’ Zephyr Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
NFTS combines various technologies – satellite and ground communications, air-to-ground, ground-to-air and air-to-air tactical links, 5G mobile communications and laser connections – in a resilient, unified, secure, highly interoperable, mesh network. Aircraft, UAVs and helicopters currently use networks with limited bandwidth and interoperability, and often little resilience. NFTS will allow them to form an integral part of high-speed military networks.
«This unique demonstration is a significant milestone in realising our vision of secure connectivity, which will enable the future air combat cloud and enhance real time execution of military missions», said Evert Dudok, Head of Communications, Intelligence & Security at Airbus Defence and Space.
The demonstration scenario simulates the establishment of multi-Mbit/s, wideband communication links between ground forces operatives, a fighter jet, a MRTT, and a Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) on the ground. Both the operatives and jet fighter had to send video in real time to provide enhanced real-time situational awareness and receive instructions from the CAOC in return.
The operative located in Getafe (Spain) was equipped with a standard handheld radio for NATO forces (ROVER). The fighter was deployed to obtain imagery of the area of interest and act as a communications node between the operative and the MRTT flying at 30,000 feet/9,144 m within a 150 km/93 miles radius in secure airspace. Communications were thus relayed between the fighter jet and the MRTT, via a wideband Line-Of-Sight (LOS) data link. The MRTT then routed the video along with its own communications via a wideband satellite link to a space teleport near Washington, D.C. The communications flow was then returned to Europe via a terrestrial link to the CAOC.
This complex scenario demonstrates the real-time operation of secure end-to-end communications across different networks and technologies: ground-air tactical link, air-air wideband link between two aircrafts, air-satellite relay and terrestrial networks. This type of configuration, known as a «hybrid network», represents the future of military communications and meets the needs of armed forces to be able to use a wide range of networks while allowing these to be managed dynamically and transparently. The solutions developed by Airbus thus allow secure Internet Protocol (IP) communications to be established, links to be reconfigured in real time and the available bandwidth to be allocated to data links based on operational priorities.
For this demonstration an MRTT aircraft has been equipped with Janus, Airbus’ new tri-band (Ku-Ka-MilKa) satellite antenna, as well as the latest version of the Proteus satellite modem, which is highly resilient against interference and jamming, and Airbus’ Aircraft Links Integration Management System (ALIMS).
This exercise paves the way for the development of the core capability for SMART MRTT connectivity, which will allow the MRTT to act as a high-end communication node. Network for the Sky (NFTS) sets the foundation for the connected airborne battlespace, with the objective to offer a full operational capability by 2020. The NFTS programme is part of Airbus’ Future Air Power project and is fully aligned with the development of the European Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
France and Germany have awarded the first-ever contract – a Joint Concept Study (JCS) – to Dassault Aviation and Airbus for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme. The launch of the JCS was announced by the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, and her German counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen, at a meeting today in Paris.
The decision by both countries represents a milestone to secure European sovereignty and technological leadership in the military aviation sector for the coming decades. Starting date for the two-year study is 20 February 2019.
Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, said: «This new step is the cornerstone to ensure tomorrow’s European strategic autonomy. We, as Dassault Aviation, will mobilize our competencies as System Architect and Integrator, to meet the requirements of the Nations and to keep our continent as a world-class leader in the crucial field of Air Combat Systems».
Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said: «FCAS is one of the most ambitious European defence programmes of the century. With today’s contract signature, we are finally setting this high-technology programme fully in motion. Both companies are committed to providing the best solutions to our Nations with regard to the New Generation Fighter as well as the systems of systems accompanying it. We are truly excited about having been given this opportunity and appreciate the trust placed in both our companies».
This planned Next Generation Weapons System will consist of a highly capable manned «New Generation Fighter» (NGF) teaming with a set of new and upgraded weapons as well as a set of unmanned systems (Remote Carriers) linked by a Combat Cloud and its Ecosystem embedded in a System-of-Systems FCAS architecture.
The JCS is based on the bi-nationally agreed High Level Common Operational Requirements Document (HLCORD) signed at Berlin Air Show ILA in April 2018 between the Defence Ministers of France and Germany as well as respective national concept studies.
Its aim is to conceptualise the different FCAS capabilities and to pave the way for future design, industrialisation, as well as an estimated full operational capability by 2040. The study will prepare and initiate demonstrator programmes for launch at the Paris Air Show in June 2019.
The Hungarian Ministry of Defence has ordered 16 H225M multi-purpose helicopters equipped with the HForce weapon management system. Together with the helicopters, Airbus will also provide an extensive training and support package to ensure the highest level of operational availability.
«I am thankful for the trust that the Hungarian Government has placed in our company to support its ambitious ‘Zrinyi 2026’ armed forces modernisation programme. Our teams have witnessed the professionalism and enthusiasm of the Hungarian experts and pilots whose contribution has been key to ensuring the success of this project», said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. «This new contract confirms the H225M as a combat-proven, multi-role platform operated by the most demanding military customers worldwide. The Hungarian armed forces will be able to rely on the cost-efficient H145M/H225M tandem that will enable them to cover all of the major military missions, from light utility, tactical transport, combat search and rescue up to light attack».
The H225Ms selected by Hungary will be equipped with state-of-the-art communication capabilities and will be used for transport, combat search and rescue, and special operations missions. Its state-of-the art avionics and four axis autopilot, exceptional range and payload capacities, combined with a large cabin designed to carry up to 28 troops and powerful air-to-ground and air-to-surface armament as well as electronic warfare systems allow the H225M to carry out the most demanding missions. The helicopter has an all-weather capability supported by its night vision goggle compatibility.
The H225M is currently in service across the globe with 88 helicopters having been delivered so far. It recently surpassed the 100,000 flight hour milestone, following its first delivery to the French Air Force in 2006. Since then the 11-metric-tonne H225M has proven its reliability and durability in multiple combat environments and crisis areas.
With this contract, Hungary becomes the 9th country to have selected the H225M. A member of the multi-role Super Puma family of helicopters, this military variant is currently operational in France, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, and has recently been ordered by Kuwait and Singapore.
2 pilots + 1 chief of stick + 28 seats
2 pilots + 8 to 12 passengers
2 pilots + up to 11 stretchers + 4 seats
4,750 kg/10,472 lbs.
16.79 m/55.08 feet
3.96 m/13 feet
4.60 m/15.09 feet
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)
11,000 kg/24,251 lbs.
MTOW in external load configuration
11,200 kg/24,690 lbs.
5,715 kg/12,600 lbs.
5,285 kg/11,651 lbs.
Maximum cargo-sling load
4,750 kg/10,472 lbs.
Standard fuel capacity
2,247 kg/4,954 lbs.
ENGINES 2 TURBOMECA MAKILA 2A1
Take-off power per engine
1,567 kW/2,101 shp
PERFORMANCE AT MAXIMUM GROSS WEIGHT, ISA*, SL**
Maximum speed (Vne***)
324 km/h/175 knots
Fast cruise speed (at MCP****)
262 km/h/142 knots
Rate of climb
5.4 m/s/1,064 feet/min
Service ceiling (Vz = 0.508 m/s = 100 feet/min)
3,968 m/13,019 feet
Hover ceiling OGE***** at ISA*, MTOW, take-off power
792 m/2,600 feet
Maximum range without reserve at Economical Cruise Speed
Fifty-five years after the arrival of the first Boeing C135 tanker aircraft, the A330 Phoenix on Friday, October 12, took off from Istres air base on its first flight after having officially joined the Air Force.
Piloted by a crew of the MRTT team of the Military Aviation Expertise Center (CEAM), the new tanker aircraft made a first flight of flight refueling trial with the aircraft of the 2/2 «Côte-d’Or» Calibration Squadron.
This first flight marks the beginning of the experimental and test campaign that will allow the aircraft to be reach Initial Operational Capability (IOC) within a year. Integrated into the 31st EARTS (strategic air refueling squadron), the trial team will perform many test flights to qualify the aircraft for all the missions it will carry out. The first phase will be dedicated to the air refueling missions of the various Air Force aircraft and those of our allies, in multiple configurations, by day or night and in all weathers.
Once the refueling capabilities are validated, the aircraft’s trials will be expanded to include strategic cargo and personnel transport and medical evacuation. The Phénix, so named by the Air Force as a symbol of the aircraft capable of «reborning» any aircraft it refuels in flight, will ultimately replace the Air Force’s entire fleet of strategic aircraft (C135, A310 and A340) which are now used for long-range missions.
Operated by the strategic air forces, the fleet of 12 aircraft (15 after 2025) will be stationed at the 125 Istres air base, whose role as our «logistics hub» will be increased tenfold.
Given that the A330 Phoenix is one and a half times larger than the C135, the entire infrastructure of Air Base 125 has had to be reviewed. A first maintenance hangar, a parking lot and new air traffic routes were thus created at the air base for the reception and implementation of the aircraft.
This site, the largest currently in terms of investments for the Ministry of the Armed Forces, will continue to accommodate 12 aircraft by 2023. In addition to two other maintenance hangars, Istres will have a new terminal for personnel and logistics transport missions which are currently carried out by the 1/60 «Estérel» transport squadron from Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle airport.
The first Airbus A330 Phénix Multi-Role Tanker Transport Aircraft (MRTT) arrived Thursday afternoon (on September 27) at Istres air base, in south-eastern France. Its reception operations, managed by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), will be completed, allowing its hand-over to the Air Force.
Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly will travel to Istres on October 19 for the official ceremony marking the arrival of the first Phoenix MRTT in the Air Force, together with General Lavigne, Chief of Staff of the French Air Force.
By its versatility, the A330 Phénix will replace two types of aircraft in the air force’s fleet: the C135 and KC135 tanker aircraft, some of which will be nearly 60 years old by the time they are retired, and the A310 and A340 strategic transport aircraft, used for both personnel and freight. Twelve Phénix aircraft will be delivered to the Air Force by 2023, out of a planned total of 15, as specified by the 2019-2025 Military Programming Law, and the minister’s wish to accelerate their delivery.
Its missions will include supporting the air component of the nuclear deterrent, the contribution to France’s permanent security posture, the projection of forces and power as well as the medical evacuation in case of emergencies or natural catastrophes.
The MRTT Phoenix is based on an Airbus A330 commercial aircraft, modified to meet specific military requirements, principally mid-air refueling. This type of aircraft is already in service with several of our allies.
This first MRTT Phénix aircraft is due to enter operational service with the strategic air force command in 2019, after a technical and operational evaluation campaign carried out by the Air Force and intended to develop the procedures for use its operational employment, doctrine and procedures.
In addition, on September 27th, the second MRTT Phénix aircraft, scheduled to be delivered in 2019, made its first test flight out of the Airbus plant in Getafe (Spain), following its conversion into a military plane.
Airbus Perlan Mission II, the world’s first initiative to pilot an engineless aircraft to the edge of space, made history again yesterday in El Calafate, Argentina, by soaring in the stratosphere to a pressure altitude of over 62,000 feet/18,898 m (60,669 feet/18,492 m GPS altitude). This set a new gliding altitude world record, pending official validation.
The pressurized Perlan 2 glider, which is designed to soar up to 90,000 feet/27,432 m, passed the Armstrong Line, the point in the atmosphere above which an unprotected human’s blood will boil if an aircraft loses pressurization.
This marks a second glider altitude world record for Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock, the same two Perlan Project pilots who soared the Perlan 2 to 52,221 feet/15,917 m GPS altitude on September 3, 2017, in the same remote region of Argentine Patagonia. The 2017 record broke a previous record that was set in 2006, in the unpressurized Perlan 1, by Perlan Project founder Einar Enevoldson and Steve Fossett.
«This is a tremendous moment for all the volunteers and sponsors of Airbus Perlan Mission II who have been so dedicated to making our nonprofit aerospace initiative a reality», said Ed Warnock, CEA of The Perlan Project. «Our victory today, and whatever other milestones we achieve this year, are a testament to a pioneering spirit of exploration that runs through everyone on the project and through the organizations that support us».
«Innovation is a buzzword in aerospace today, but Perlan truly embodies the kind of bold thinking and creativity that are core Airbus values», said Tom Enders, Airbus CEO. «Perlan Project is achieving the seemingly impossible, and our support for this endeavor sends a message to our employees, suppliers and competitors that we will not settle for being anything less than extraordinary».
Another first-of-its kind achievement this year for the Perlan Project was the use of a special high-altitude tow plane rather than a conventional glider tow plane. During yesterday’s flight, Perlan 2 was towed to the base of the stratosphere by a Grob Egrett G520 turboprop, a high-altitude reconnaissance plane that was modified for the task earlier this summer. Operated by AV Experts, LLC, and flown by chief pilot Arne Vasenden, the Egrett released Perlan 2 at around 42,000 feet/12,802 m, the approximate service ceiling of an Airbus A380.
To soar into the highest areas of Earth’s atmosphere, Perlan 2 pilots catch a ride on stratospheric mountain waves, a weather phenomenon created when rising air currents behind mountain ranges are significantly strengthened by the polar vortex. The phenomenon occurs only for a brief period each year in just a few places on earth. Nestled within the Andes Mountains in Argentina, the area around El Calafate is one of those rare locations where these rising air currents can reach to 100,000 feet/30,480 m or more.
Built in Oregon and home-based in Minden, Nevada, the Perlan 2 glider incorporates a number of unique innovations to enable its ambitious mission:
A carbon-fiber capsule with a unique high-efficiency, passive cabin pressurization system that eliminates the need for heavy, power-hungry compressors.
A unique closed-loop rebreather system, in which the only oxygen used is what the crew metabolizes. It is the lightest and most efficient system for a sealed cabin, and its design has applications for other high-altitude aircraft.
An onboard «wave visualization system» that graphically displays areas of rising and sinking air in cockpits. For commercial flights, following lines of rising air would allow faster climbs and save fuel, while also helping aircraft avoid dangerous phenomena such as wind shear and severe downdrafts.
Unlike powered research aircraft, Perlan 2 does not affect the temperature or chemistry of the air around it, making it an ideal platform to study the atmosphere. The experiments carried aloft in its instrument bay are yielding new discoveries related to high-altitude flight, weather and climate change.
This season, Perlan 2 is flying with experiments developed by The Perlan Project’s science and research committee, as well as projects created in collaboration with organizations and schools in the U.S. and Argentina. Perlan 2 research projects currently include:
An experiment measuring radiation effects at high altitudes, designed by students from Cazenovia Central School & Ashford School in Connecticut. This project is in coordination with Teachers in Space, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization that stimulates student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics;
A flight data recorder, developed by Argentina’s Instituto de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas para la Defensa (CITEDEF);
A second flight data recorder, designed by students at Argentina’s La Universidad Tecnológica Nacional (UTN);
A space weather (radiation) instrument;
An experiment titled «Marshmallows in Space», developed by the Oregon Museum of Science & Discovery to teach the scientific process to preschoolers.
Two new environmental sensors, developed by The Perlan Project.
The Perlan 2 will continue to pursue higher altitude flights and conduct research in the stratosphere as weather and winds permit through the middle of September.
About Airbus Perlan Mission II
Airbus Perlan Mission II is an initiative to fly an engineless glider to the edge of space, higher than any other winged aircraft has operated in level, controlled flight, to open up a world of new discoveries related to high-altitude flight, weather and climate change. This historic endeavor is the culmination of decades of research and engineering innovation, and the work of a tireless international team of aviators and scientists who volunteer their time and expertise for the non-profit Perlan Project. The project is supported by Airbus and a group of other sponsors that includes Weather Extreme Ltd., United Technologies and BRS Aerospace.
The best-selling jetliner is considered for a wide range of ISR and transport operations
Having made its mark in the commercial airline sector, the A320neo is now being considered by Airbus for new applications: as a highly-capable and cost-effective platform for ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) duties and as a military transport.
The variant – designated A320M3A – would be designed to fulfill a range of ISR roles, particularly maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare. It also can be outfitted with modular roll-on/roll-off payloads for airlift missions ranging from carrying passengers, troops and VIPs to medical evacuation (medevac) and transporting cargo.
Airbus’ consideration of the A320M3A is in response to market demand, spurred by the growing use of more capable ISR systems – which require physically larger host platforms with increased electrical power and more efficient cooling systems than previously were the case for C4ISR aircraft.
A proven, low-risk solution
One of the biggest applications of the A320M3A is for maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare, with countries in Europe and elsewhere seeking replacements for ageing aircraft – many of which will be encouraged to develop fleet commonality driven by the intensive growth of joint operations with member nations of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
Advantages in offering the New Engine Option (NEO) version of Airbus’ A320 commercial jetliner include an extensive capability for growth in a fuselage cross-section that is wider than its competitor in the same size category, the long range and endurance, as well as the lowest operational and life-cycle costs in its class. Other pluses for the A320M3A are the aircraft’s high reliability (proven in airline service), and the resources of an established worldwide supply chain and training network.
The A320M3A also benefits from being a low-risk solution: being based on Airbus’ highly-mature A320 airliner family in high-rate production; and building on the company’s proven capabilities in producing military derivatives of its commercial aircraft – such as the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), which is in use by military services around the globe.
Donauwörth, The Hungarian Ministry of Defence has ordered 20 H145M military helicopters equipped with the innovative HForce weapon management in the frame of the military modernisation programme Zrinyi 2026. Together with the helicopters, Airbus will provide an extensive training and support package.
«We are honoured to be of service – once more – to the Hungarian Ministry of Defence whom we today welcome as a new customer for our H145M helicopters. With this new order, we are fostering our excellent and trustful relationship with the Hungarian Armed Forces after their acquisition of two A319 military troop transporters last year. Team Airbus is grateful for the continued trust and confidence that the Hungarian government has placed in our products», said Tom Enders, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus.
With a maximum take-off weight of 3.7 tonnes, the H145M can be used for a wide range of tasks, including troop transport, utility, surveillance, air rescue, armed reconnaissance and medical evacuation. The Hungarian fleet will be equipped with a fast roping system, high-performance camera, fire support equipment, ballistic protection as well as an electronic countermeasures system to support the most demanding operational requirements. The HForce system, developed by Airbus Helicopters, will allow Hungary to equip and operate their aircraft with a large set of ballistic or guided air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons.
The H145M is a tried-and-tested light twin-engine helicopter that was first delivered in 2015 to the German Armed Forces and has since been ordered by Thailand and the Republic of Serbia. The programme’s maturity allows Airbus Helicopters to execute orders on cost and on schedule. Mission readiness of the H145Ms already in service is above 95 percent.
Powered by two Safran Arriel 2E engines, the H145M is equipped with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC). In addition, the helicopter is equipped with the Helionix digital avionics suite which includes a high-performance 4-axis autopilot, increasing safety and reducing pilot workload. Its particularly low acoustic footprint makes the H145M the quietest helicopter in its class.