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Singapore Airshow 2022: Indonesia's CN-235 gunship plans delayed by push for aviation biofuel

A model of the gunship variant of the CN-235 that was on display at Singapore Airshow 2020. The model was not displayed at Airshow 2022 given prevailing uncertainties over the programme. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

Indonesia's plan to develop a gunship variant of the CN-235 twin-engine multi-purpose aircraft has been delayed indefinitely amid a push for the country to commercialise a home-grown aviation biofuel type.

The matter was revealed to Janes by an official from state-owned aerospace company PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) at Singapore Airshow 2022. Notably missing from PTDI's exhibition stand during the show was a model of the CN-235 gunship, which has been displayed at past defence exhibitions.

β€œWe are no longer displaying the gunship because it is unclear when this project will resume,” said the official. β€œThe flying testbed that was supposed to be a platform from which we conduct the firing trials is now involved in pre-commercialisation processes of an Indonesian-developed palm-oil based aviation biofuel known as BioAvtur.”

PTDI acquired a second-hand CN-235 airframe, which was in commercial service with the now-defunct domestic flight operator Merpati Nusantara Airlines, in 2018. The airframe was acquired as a flying testbed from which it can prove out experimental concepts such as the CN-235 gunship.

Igan Satyawati, the company's vice-president for business development and marketing, told Janes at Singapore Airshow 2020 that this flying testbed has been fitted with single-barrelled 30 mm DEFA 553 aircraft cannon on the portside aft of its fuselage for ground firing trials. The weapon was salvaged from a retired Douglas A-4H Skyhawk that was formerly in service with the Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara: TNI-AU).

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