Airbus C295 armed with Mk46/54 torpedoes will patrol off Spain

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The Spanish Ministry of Defense, in a recent proclamation, has unveiled the leading attributes of the latest addition to its fleet, the C295 maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, specifically designed for operations within the Aerospace Force.

Photo credit: Irish Air Corp

Expected to consummate by year’s end, the substantial contract with Airbus encompasses the procurement of six Naval Patrol Aircraft [MPA] versions and ten additional marine surveillance aircraft [MSA]. 


Significantly, the C295 MPA and its MSA counterpart offer an identical maximum range of 2,000 nautical miles. The crucial distinction lies within the armament specifications. Armed to the teeth, the Marine Patrol adaptation can be outfitted with torpedoes, carrying capacities ranging from 2 to 4 Mk46/54, and accommodate up to 60 sounding boards. The integration of this particular weapon into the foremost unit of the series is imminent, a development that is meticulously detailed in a comprehensive article elaborating on this program.

This innovative program sets a remarkable precedent, creating possibilities for incorporating multiple other categories of weaponry in the imminent future. Such potential advancements could significantly enhance the comprehensiveness and efficacy of the arsenal at the disposal of the defense forces.


Occupying a prominent position within the sensor section, one cannot overlook the quintet of FITS consoles. With their impeccable integration, they have earned a distinctive place amongst the wide array of systems. Packed alongside is the SPAS 32, a cutting-edge acoustic detection system revered for its accuracy. This pane of the sensor mosaic is completed by the synthetic aperture radar [SAR-ISAR], designed for unparalleled detail recognition. 

Handout photo

Further supporting the reconnaissance mission, an electro-optical/IR surveillance system is aptly placed to ensure the most comprehensive coverage. Significantly complementing this role is the magnetic anomaly detector, its indispensable utilization known to identify discrepancies with precision. An automatic identification system [AIS] finds its niche amongst these stellar contributions, primarily aiding in the identification and tracking of vessels. 

Finally, adding an additional layer of safeguard is the missile defense system, strategically mounted throughout the exterior of the cell: a silent testament to the hub’s diverse capabilities and inherent complexity.

Encrypted satellite communication

As elucidated by the program manager at the General Directorate of Armaments and Materiel, Lt. Col. Enrique Montero, the forthcoming major advancement as compared with its antecedent, namely, the P3 Orion, will predominantly be observed in the broad sphere of communications and data link.

As he expounds, its connectivity options “markedly enhance its set of operational capabilities, concurrently transforming the aircraft into a premier command and control center, particularly indispensable in the context of network-centric warfare.”

The C295 MPA is set to be fitted with sophisticated satellite communication systems encompassing encryption equipment, thus ensuring the invulnerability of transmissions. This will work in conjunction with tactical ground and satellite data link operations, making use of military-grade UHF and Ka bands. 

Photo credit: Airbus

Furthermore, it will incorporate a Mode V Identification Friend-Foe [IFF] system. This robust and imperative system is pivotal for distinguishing allies from adversaries and enhancing tactical operation management on the battlefield. 

Moreover, the C295 MPA guarantees the security of transmitted information by employing data encryption in the VMF format. The notable inclusion of Link 16 -JRE illustrates its commitment to facilitating efficient and real-time data exchange, reinforcing its mission connectivity capability.

Local production

Significant involvement is anticipated from the Spanish defense industry in the forthcoming program. The highly reputed Airbus Defense and Space, assuming the mantle of project management, will be orchestrating the collaboration amongst a consortium of companies. Among such prominent entities is Indra, known for their substantial contributions to various subsystems, a notable example of which is self-defense.

When considering the integration of the cutting-edge acoustic system, it will indeed be SAES that shall spearhead the effort. Alongside them, Tecnobit stands poised to contribute its expertise to the project, specifically tasked with developing the intricate mechanisms of the encryption equipment. Shifting the focus to the role of Spanish firms in this venture, Montero solemnly underscores the imperative nature of their participation. As he elucidates, this will endow the nation with the authority to dictate system configurations and determine the equipment it should harbor. These measures serve to confer absolute autonomy in its utilization, thereby ensuring an unwavering independence is maintained throughout.

Contractual conditions

Assuming all prescribed regulations are meticulously adhered to within the set time frames, the Department of Defense is poised to finalize the contract before the conclusion of the present calendar year. An initial commitment from this esteemed department, earmarked from the annual fiscal provisions, is valued at a substantial 50 million, unequivocally underlining the significance of this forthcoming program.

The inaugural aircraft to emerge from the production line will embody the maritime patrol variant. Airbus has committed to constructing 16 C295 models for Spain. This task will ensue at their distinguished San Pablo installation, strategically situated in Seville, which houses the assembly line specifically designed for this model. In a show of astute manufacturing strategy, the Spanish production endeavors will be balanced meticulously with other global orders, a list that comprises key players such as India, Mexico, and Serbia.

First deliveries in 2027

Upon the signing of the contract, the company anticipates a production timeline of approximately 50 months for the maiden unit. This device is projected to be officially operational by 2027, according to prevalent estimates posited by the Directorate General for Armament and Material [DGAM]. 

Considering the maritime surveillance variant, the initial aircraft will inaugurate its departure from the Airbus manufacturing base in Seville in the year 2028. The entire program, ambitiously scheduled over nine years, is likely to culminate in 2031 with the handing over of the sixteenth aircraft, as per preliminary outlines.


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