The Portuguese Air Force will be flying a C295 transport aircraft to Air Force Base Waterkloof for the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition next month.
Airbus officials confirmed that the aircraft would be attending AAD between 14 and 18 September but could not provide much more information as the aircraft is being operated by the Portuguese Air Force.
The intention is to allow the South African Air Force to talk shop with the Portuguese pilots and technicians so they can get an understanding of the aircraft in operational service.
Airbus in 2012 flew one of its own C295s to South Africa, where it was demonstrated to the South African Air Force. Airbus believes the aircraft will make a good replacement for the C-47TP maritime patrol aircraft and C212 light transports currently in service. Airbus was pursuing Project Saucepan for new maritime patrol aircraft but this was subsequently divided into Projects Metsie and Kiepie, for maritime surveillance and light transport. Two years ago the Department of Defence (DoD) said the Air Force would acquire these types of aircraft, but in its latest annual report the DoD makes no mention of these acquisitions and the budget for the next several years shows no extra funding.
Nevertheless, Airbus continues to promote the C295 to the South African Air Force as well as other African countries. The European manufacturer has had better luck elsewhere on the continent, with Ghana, Egypt and Mali being some of the type’s customers – this year Mali will receive a single example while Egypt will receive the last of the 24 it has on order.
The C295 is one of the few aircraft confirmed to be attending AAD 2016. The Sukhoi SuperJet 100 is another type that has been confirmed for the show, and will be its local debut. The United States will be bringing a C-17 Globemaster III airlifter, C-130J transport and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle to the show. Smaller unmanned aircraft like the RQ-7 Shadow may also be on display. The South African Air Force and Museum will also have a presence at the continent’s largest aerospace and defence exhibition, although at this stage it does not look like the Air Force will be flying a Hawk display team, as it did during AAD 2014.