France has taken delivery of the first of eight Airbus Military CN235 aircraft, ordered last year for 225 million euros, to compensate for delays in receiving the A400M.
The French General Directorate of Armaments, DGA, received the first aircraft on November 17, two months ahead of schedule. The aircraft will be operated by Escadron de Transport 62 at Creil-Senlis.
“We are very proud that the French Air Force has trusted once more in Airbus Military and its range of products to strengthen its fleet. The eight CN235 aircraft ordered from France incorporate the latest technologies and systems to ensure the best performance of the missions they will carry out after their entry in service”, said Airbus Military Head of Programmes, Rafael Tentor.
The eight aircraft will reinforce the French air force’s current fleet of 19 CASA CN235s, and will allow a more cost-effective management of transport missions between the C-160 Transal, C-130 Hercules and CN-235 transports as the air force build up its fleet of A400Ms, the first of which is due to enter service in 2013.
The A400M is four years late, largely due to development problems with the engine, the largest turboprops built in the West, and the flight management system from Thales. The A400M has been developed at a cost of more than 20 billion euros for Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey.
The CN235 has been in French air force service since 1993. It is used for cargo and personnel transport and for parachute training. It can carry up to 6 tonnes of cargo or 40 passengers.
EADS received the contract for the CN235s on March 25 last year. It includes provision of initial support for the aircraft. At the time of the order, DGA chief Laurent Collet-Billion said the French Air Force’s fleet of aging transports met only about 25 percent of the cargo mission set out in France’s white paper on defence and national security. Some aircraft are more than 40 years old and are costly to maintain.
The CN235 originated as a joint venture between CASA of Spain and IPTN of Indonesia, at the time manufacturing Casa 212s under license. More than 250 units are in service with military and government operators in 26 countries. This fleet has accumulated more than one million flight hours.
The twin turboprop aircraft can carry six tonnes of cargo or 44 passengers, or 36 paratroopers or 24 stretchers.