On 1 December last year, the Government of Canada awarded a contract to acquire 16 Airbus C295W aircraft to answer the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Fixed-Wing Search And Rescue (FWSAR) requirement. This contract brought an end to an acquisition programme that was rst raised in 2002, and then revisited in December 2011.
FWSAR is intended to replace the RCAF’s current fleet of six CC-115 Bu alo and 12 CC-130 first-generation Hercules in the search and rescue role. The first delivery is scheduled for late 2019, with initial operating capability scheduled to be achieved by 2020.
Full operating capability is due to follow two years later.
In order to deliver the FWSAR package, Airbus Defence and Space has teamed with a number of leading Canadian aerospace companies. A joint venture known as AirPro has been created with PAL Aerospace to provide in-service support for the fleet.
Last October, Airbus and PAL also announced a strategic partnership to provide in-service support for C295s operating in the Gulf Cooperation Council nations. CAE is the Airbus C295 training partner and will establish a state-of- the-art training centre for the FWSAR eet at CFB Comox. Pratt & Whitney Canada provides the PW127G turboprops that power the C295W, and L3 Wescam supplies the MX-15 electro-optic turret that forms a major part of the sensor suite. Airbus claims that around 20 per cent of the aircraft is of Canadian origin.
At the heart of the C295W is the Airbus FITS tactical mission system, which integrates data from several sources, including AIS (automatic identification system) and an Elta search radar. The radar has a range of around 200 nautical miles for larger vessels and 35nm against small vessels and inflatables. It can track more than 100 targets. The MX-15 turret can spot small vessels out to 20nm and humans at a range of around 8nm.
It offers full auto-scan, auto-lock and auto-tracking capability. The C295W has large bulged observer windows in the rear of the cabin for visual searches.