Mali receives C295W

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Mali’s Air Force has received the single C295W it ordered in early 2016, with the aircraft arriving in the capital Bamako.

The winglet-equipped C295W left the Airbus Defence and Space facilities in Seville, Spain, on its delivery flight on 15 December, arriving in Bamako the same day after a stopover at Gando Air Base in the Canary Islands.

The Malian C295W was seen undergoing test flights in September before service entry with the Transport Squadron based at Base Aerienne 101 Bamako-Senou. Malian pilots underwent training at Airbus’s International Training Centre.

According to IHS Janes, Mali’s selection of the aircraft was influenced by Ghana’s use of the C295 in support of the Minusma mission in Mali from 2014, with the aircraft exhibiting good endurance and unrefueled range as well as the ability to operate on unpaved runways. Mali’s single C295W will be used to provide logistics support, medical evacuation, and troop transport capabilities to the Malian military.

The C295W is the standard production version. It was unveiled in 2013 with the aim of improving performance and fuel economy, especially in hot and high conditions. Each winglet adds 30 kg to the aircraft’s weight while structural changes in the wing add another 60 kg to the aircraft. The winglets improve cruise and fuel consumption through a reduction in drag and increase in lift – the C295W features a 200 mile range increase over the baseline model as a result of changes, or a 30-60 minute increase in endurance.

Meanwhile, updated Pratt & Whitney PW127 engines add power in climb and cruise, improving all round performance. The engine changes increase payload by 1 500 kg at 25 000 feet, raise maximum operational altitude from 24 000 to 26 000 feet and increase payload by 1 ton from hot and high airfields.

Mali’s C295 is not be the first to fly in the country – since September 2014, Ghana has been flying its C295s in Mali in support of Minusma there and in 2015 ordered a third C295 from Airbus. Regarding Africa, at the moment Algeria has six C295s in service, and Egypt has ordered 24. Airbus is currently still manufacturing C295s for Egypt.

The C295W joins Mali’s small fleet of fixed-wing aircraft, which includes nine Mikoyan MiG-21s (although most of these are believed to be unserviceable), one Alenia SF-260, one Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander, two Basler BT-67s and several An-2s, An-24s and An-26s.

In June 2015 Mali ordered six A-29 Super Tucano light attack and advanced training turboprops from Embraer. The aircraft will deployed for advanced training, border surveillance, and internal security missions, giving a major boost to the Mali Air Force’s combat fleet, which includes the MiG-21s and several Mi-24 attack helicopters. Super Tucano deliveries are imminent, with the aircraft being seen undergoing test flights in Brazil in December 2016.