Airbus Defence & Space (DS) invited journalists from around the world to its annual Trade Media Briefing 2016 (TMB16), informing about their current and upcoming technology solutions. Dirk Hoke, CEO Airbus DS, informed the TMB16 audience: “We have to become more agile, more faster, increasing the speed of our business, learning to integrate start-up ideas. We are looking at how via technology we can grow our business again. We have to look at our traditional business, military aircraft, to increase the speed of our business. We expect to grow faster than the market."
Jean Pierre Talamoni, Head of Sales & Marketing, Airbus DS, in a presentation during Airbus DS’ TMB16, stated that, “our DNA is CSI (Customers, Services, and Innovation).” Customers as in, “if we have them we will keep them,” Services as in Intemacy with customers, and Innovation as in following the speed of technology.
Giving an outlook of military aircraft in the defence procurement market, Talamoni explained that, “up until 2020 we have a huge part coming from the US, but no growth.” A large part is coming coming from the ASPAC (6%), Europe, without France, Germany, the UK, and Spain (2%), who make up their own market growth-share (1%), and the Middle East (3%) and Latin America (2%). In Airbus DS’ view of the defence market, 25% of procurement budgets are dedicated to aircraft and 21% to space systems, C4I, missiles, and UAVs, in the timeframe 2016-25.
2/3 of these opportunities are in Asia and the Middle East, according to the industry expert, seeing the competition globally. In the next 10 years, military opportunities include approx. 150 heavy transport aircraft, 85 tanker aircraft, 750 combat aiircraft, and 350 mission aircraft. “The more competition we will get, the more we will have to fight for new markets,” he said, stating Russia, Japan, and Embraer as up-and-coming competition. Also, with an already existing surplus of C-130s, he boasted, “the A400M will kill the C-130,” creating a larger surplus of C-130s in the future, thereby creating more competition.
Concerning India and its “Make in India” mantra, Talamoni wants fair participation: “We cannot go faster than the music. What is missing in India is to show that this vision is not only marketing, but a line for the next 40 years.”
“We have an aircraft that is perfectly suited for today’s crises, able to land everywhere,” Talamoni told the press, talking about the A400M. The aircraft is currently in operational use with French Forces in Burkina Faso/Chad/Mali/Mauritania/Niger in Operation Barkhane; the RAF in Operation Shader, supporting TORNADO and Eurofighter TYPHOON over Iraq and Syria; in Operation Chammal, supporting French MIRAGE 2000s over Iraq and Syria; supporting German TORNADOs and Turkish fighters since 2015; and more.
The A330MRTT is in operations with Australia, France, Korea (ROK), Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the UAE and the UK. 2015 saw a repeat order of +2a/C by Australia, a 2nd tranche of +8 a/c by France, and the new order of four aircraft by the ROK. According to Talamoni, Airbus MRTT has captured 85% of the global tanker market, excluding the US market, with many more to come, including India. “Soon we will launch good news about Poland, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands,” he said. 27 MRTTs have so far been sold to different customers. Continuing with the C295, Talamoni informed that 168 aircraft have so far been sold to 23 countries with 11 repeat orders.
According to the head of sales and marketing, the C295 Medium Transport Aircraft is one of the most versatile aircraft on the market. In terms of future R&D, he stated that helicopter refuelling; AGS, AEW, SIGINT; and Water Bombing will be in service soon. Also, a big competition is coming up in Canada.
Canada is very important to Airbus, not just as a sale of an MPA, but in service support of the fleet for a very long time. “We are confident that we will wind, as the C295 is the only proven aircraft that has proven complete mission systems on board for Canada’s SAR requirement,” Fernando Ciria Head of Marketing, Tactical Airlifters, and ISR, explained. The C295 MPA has the capacity to detect and track small targets and the capacity to drop large rescue packages, while having great endurance. This includes to human movement and drug trafficking. In terms of a border surveillance capacity, the C295 provides high resolution SAR/GMTI radar, EO/IR and target designation turret, ESM/ELINT, COMINT, wide band video link, and the FITS tactical system.
The air-to-air Refuelling (AAR) refuelling kit for the C-295 was extensively tested by Airbus DS with dry contact scheduled in July and helictopter AAR with an H-225M by November 2016. A video shown during Airbus DS Head of Engineering Miquel Angel Morell’s presentation during TMB16 depicted no proximity nor stability issues issues between the helicopter and the tanker aircraft. The next step according to Morell will be industrialisation.
On A400M helicopter AAR, currently a large topic with many air forces, is currently in R&D, the main problem being proximity between the two aircraft. The A400M AAR R&D programme consists of two phases Advances Simulation &Training and Wind Tunnel Tests. has been launched with the main goal was simulation and wind tunnel tests. The next step is to physically refuel a helictoper by the end of this year. According to the head of engineering, “following successfull completion of the R&D programme, a Flight Test Prgroamme will follow to fully validate the results of previous phases. The target is to proceed with proximity testing before end of 2016.”
Why not use the tanker for more things, was a question asked by Miquel Angel Morell, Head of Engineering. “It can be used as a tanker, and other applictation, why not LINK16 extension,” he asked. “You can transmit all the excisting datalink information to a ground control station immediatly via SATCOM, acting as LINK16 data relay to make local LINK16 information accessible to the C3I network.”
There are two main options to implement Joint Range Extension (JRE) capability to the MRTT:Tx/Rx of Link16 messages through an IP SATCOM (JREAP-C), e.g. Inmarsat4/Skynet; or Tx/Rx of Link16 messages through UHF DAMA radio (JRAP-A). Interested customers include Australia and France, with the latter also involved in the next step: Integration in one MRTT fitted with wideband SATCOM.
The C295 has been the workhorse for Airbus DS. It has been flying for 25 years and is still flying. Botwana have just renewed their fleet, on-going deliveries include 24 to Egypt (with 21 delivered, having repeatedly ordered the aircraft in five batches; with deliveres to be finished this year), and one to Mali (to be delivered this year).
A strong focus on Africa is due to the very old fleets on the continent with the C295 being the perfect tactical airlifter, according to the Head of Marketing, Tactical Airlifters, and ISR. “The African environment is very hard to operate in, but the new C295W with winglets and an enhanced performance engine mode provides larger payload from hot and high airfields (7.85t at 50nm) and longer range and fuel savings. Egypt created a new fleet model, the Medium Size Airlifter, for conducting missions, previously allocated to the C-130H," according to Ciria.
The C295 is a proven solution for maritime patrol, bringing high manoeuverability and excellent low-level flying qualities. It provides a proven mission system with a renewed Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) and advanced sensors for target aquisition and classification.
Africa requires CSAR operations with the refuelling capacity for helos (C295 AAR with a roll-on roll-off system). The C295 has the capacity to detect and track small targets (human movement, drug trafficking) and the capacity to drop large rescue packages, while having great endurance. The aircraft’s Border Surveillance capacity include High resolution SAR/GMTI radar, EO/IR and target designation turret, ESM/ELINT, COMINT, wide band video link, and FITS.
According to Ciria, Gunship work still being customised with a customer, and New Zealand has just opened discussions (future airlifter + future MPA), where Airbus DS can create important .
Talamoni informed that, “despite the capability of the Eurofighter TYPHOON, today we are facing serious competition in Europe with the F-35. EUROFIGHTER is the plane that should protect Europe in the future. We will lose engineering capabilities here, with technology going as fast as it does.” With Oman deliveries starting 2017; Kuwait ordering 28 aircraft, other countries targeted include Belgium, Finnland, Poland (even though they are overburdend within too many things: Air defence, helicopters, F-16 replacement, according to Talamoni), and “nordic nations will have to replace their fleets...it is time we are engaging this game on a European level.”
“We have to play our chances in the ASPAC with a maximum of strength. It is not the quality of the aircraft and its operational capabilities that makes the difference, it is politics,” he concluded.