The initial Airbus Defence C295W for the Irish Air Corps (IAC) is progressing well on the production line at Seville-San Pablo Airport, Spain.
Images released by the IAC on August 17 showed the front and rear fuselage sections of the aircraft, construction number 211, being mated on the Final Assembly Line. A contract valued at approximately €221.6m for two of these aircraft for the IAC was signed on December 13, 2019, making Ireland the 33rd country to order the type.
The acquisition project is part-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme, co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union. The aircraft will both be in a maritime surveillance configuration, equipped with the manufacturer’s Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) and specific state-of-the-art mission sensors, along with Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics. The aircraft are due for delivery to Baldonnel in 2023 to replace the two CN235M-100s currently in service with 1 Operations Wing/101 Squadron.
These were originally delivered in December 1994, although in 2007-8, they were upgraded by Airbus Military with the FITS, APS-143(V)3 Ocean Eye maritime surveillance radar and Star Safire III electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensor. As with the CN235s, the new C295s primary role will be maritime surveillance, with particular emphasis on fishery protection. However, they will also be used for a wide range of other roles, including logistics support, transport of troops and equipment, medical evacuation and air ambulance flights, search and rescue and general utility missions.