Saturday, July 18, 2009

Elefantes: Operating the new C-295M tactical transport aircraft

In a visit to the Montijo air base I have visited the 502 Sqn. Elefantes, the unit of the Portuguese Air Force which is receiving the new C-295M fleet. Officially moved to the air base of Montijo, with the city of Lisbon in the background, in the begin of 2009, the Elefantes had previously operated in Sintra with the C-212 Aviocar. The unit has a long history including the operation of iconic aircraft such as the Junkers Ju-52 and the Nord Noratlas transport aircrafts.

The new Airbus Military C-295M is a medium-range transport aircraft with a payload of 9t and a capacity for up to 71 passengers. Among its users are Spain, Brazil, Colombia, Algeria, Finland, Poland, and others.

The C-295M fleet boosts the operational capabilities of the 502 Sqn. both for tactical transport, medical evacuation, logistic support, operations with paratroops, search and rescue missions and maritime surveillance. From the 12 aircrafts acquired by Portugal, 7 will be of the transport version and 5 will operated primarily in the maritime surveillance configuration equipped with the CASA FITS (Fully Integrated Tactical System). However, the characteristics of the C-295M allow that these last aircrafts can be quickly transformed for transport missions. The deliver of the first maritime surveillance aircraft is expected for the end of this year. By the end of 2010, it is expected that all the 12 ordered C-295M are already in the air base of Montijo. Meanwhile, the priority is the preparation of the crews for the operation with the new aircraft.

I would like to acknowledge to the military personal from the 502 Sqn. which received me in the unit and their explanations about the new C-295M.

Pedro Monteiro

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