Discussing the Philippine Air Force's C-295 Medium Lift Aircraft Fleet

The Philippine Air Force obtains an array of logistics aircraft or "airlifters" as it is known that helps the Armed Forces of the Philippines mobilize quicker as traveling by air usually takes a smaller amount of time as opposed to the sea in which the Philippine Navy employs its own sealift vessels that can also take up a job for the military logistics chain.

One such aircraft that the Air Force obtain is a known addition to its inventory since the start of the Revised AFP Modernization Program or the Republic Act 10349 in 2012 in which it is known for playing a role in both military and civilian operations in which the former focuses on the deployment of troops and equipment whilst the later came in immediate response to natural disasters as part of its humanitarian assistance and disaster response or HADR operations.

One of the C-295 Medium Lift Aircraft that the
Philippine Air Force obtain.
Copyright provided on the image.
When speaking about the Philippine Air Force and its airlifting capabilities, the first thing that came to mind is about the large, capable C-130s of different variants that this service branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines already obtain, with the plans land to procure more assets of such type along the way.

The addition of those assets, as discussed in the previous article entry as we recall it, provides the needed boost in its capacity of accommodating more troops and military equipment on-board, as well as supplies that are needed in combat such as ammunition and food for the troops to eat and also relief goods in times of need like during natural calamities that Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response operations are needed.

While the larger C-130 Hercules is considered the primary mainstay cargo aircraft of the Philippine Air Force in terms of space and greater capacity of carrying goods, troops, and equipment, there are also other varieties of aircraft which are also crucial in the sense that it has a different set of capabilities that are fit to the requirements needed by the service branch for its own use.

And that is having a medium-lift aircraft that is meant to augment the mainstay C-130 Hercules and also relieving these platforms on the intensive airlifting activities as its purpose goes with its limited cargo capacity and sufficient within its limited range that renders larger aircraft to be designated in more essential, added capacity airlift that it is designed for distributing assets, military equipment, supplies, and other roles that maximize its utility.

For this discussion, we will be covering the capable Medium Lift Aircraft that the Philippine Air Force procured from the start of the Revised AFP Modernization Program in 2012 wherein it became one of the primary sets of aircraft that serves the Philippine Air Force's 220th Airlift Wing, and eventually the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing with such type of aircraft serving as a Command and Control (C2) aircraft.

These F-27 Fokker Friendship cargo aircraft forms the Medium
Lift Aircraft, in which it was augmented by the newer C-295 aircraft.
Copyright provided on the image.
Before the C-295 Medium Lift Cargo Aircraft was considered by the Philippine Air Force and eventually obtaining these assets for logistics and airlifting use, the service branch already obtains a handful of these Medium Lift Cargo Aircraft on its inventory, especially coming in the form of these older F-27 Fokker Friendship just like the one seen on the image up above.

The first aircraft of such type that was introduced in the Philippine Air Force traced all way back to September 13, 1959, wherein it was considered part of presidential transport missions which is now currently the job for the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing to take (and also the rationale in having a single C-295 aircraft as a Command and Control platform under this unit).

From 1959, obtaining 51 years of age, it means that such a platform is considered one of the oldest ones that the Philippine Air Force obtains in its inventory as it is still in active service, performing its intended duties as a medium-lift cargo aircraft that may get augmented by the C-295 aircraft and eventually replacing it out as time passes by given by the Fokker F-27 Friendship's age.

While there is a presidential-unit F-27 Fokker Friendship that the Philippine Air Force obtained, most of its serviceable aircraft may come in the form of the procurements made in the mid-1970s up to the early 1980s as the five-year AFP Modernization Program of that time went on considering the procurement of such platform as one of the largest acquisitions made at that time.

This aircraft was considered the mainstay platform for airlines of that era, obtaining it in flying passengers to multiple destinations in which the Philippine Airlines also operated these F-27 Fokker Friendship aircraft before their transfer to the Philippine Air Force in the mid-1970s to combat counterinsurgency operations that took place during that time.

Being an airliner of that time, it does not have the features that a C-130 Hercules of the more-modern C-295 Medium Lift Cargo Aircraft have which is having a ramp at the aircraft's backside which is currently a must-need capability for a cargo aircraft to have as larger parcels of goods that are either intended for both combat or in humanitarian assistance and disaster response can be embarked and disembarked much easily.

Despite having a bit obsolete feature for a cargo aircraft and also with its age that it may get replaced by the newer C-295s, it is still a known fact that the F-27 Fokker Friendship contributed a lot throughout its service in the Philippine Air Force in terms of supporting the troops fighting in counterinsurgency operations as well as giving aid in disaster-stricken areas throughout its operations within this military organization.

The Colombian Air Force CN-235-300 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA).
Image Source.
The story of the inception of any aircraft that has found service in various militaries across the world starts at the planning and development level, in which aircraft manufacturers are pouring resources and time into research and development to visualize a platform that may fit the requirements of end-users, finding its way into service of several armed forces after multiple test trials and intensive marketing which enforces the manufacturer's reputation in providing such product in other nations that have the potential market for such platform, both civilian and military.

In the case of C-295 medium-lift aircraft that the Philippine Air Force obtain in its inventory of serviceable airlifters, the story of its development traces back to its shorter cousin which is the CN-235 which still serves multiple armed forces across the globe and is still being manufactured by companies such as Indonesia's PT Dirgantara (the one that provided the NC-212s to the Philippine Air Force) or its originator, the Construcciones Aeron√°uticas SA which is currently succeeded by Airbus Military.

The makings of the C-295 traces back to the time that its CN-235 cousin was developed in the early 1980s wherein the two aforementioned companies - the Spanish and the Indonesian one initiated the design work at that time, with the first maiden flight took place in 1983 with the introduction of the first production aircraft took place three years later in 1986 and eventually entered service within the Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire) two years later in 1988.

Just a decade later, the development for the C-295 Medium Lift Aircraft took place in November 1996 wherein it took one year for EADS-CASA (which was then integrated into the Airbus Military during that time) to produce a prototype which was test flown in November of 1997 and eventually, like the CN-235 cargo aircraft before it 13 years prior, was first delivered to its first customer which is the Spanish Air Force in 2001 and the product attracted multiple customers across the globe since then, including the Philippine  Air Force.

To supplement the historical information collated within this sub-topic, let us quote the details of the C-295's design as provided by the Air Recognition website: "The C295 design is based on a robust and reliable structure, able to withstand the rigors of military tactical usage. The landing gear is also designed to be used on unprepared and short airfields, being able to handle high sink rates typical of tactical missions. Compared to other tactical transport, the C295 has a simpler system architecture, with fewer components, less weight, and better reliability resulting in lower operating costs."

So basically, the C-295 Medium Lift Aircraft is designed on smaller runways that the country currently obtains such as the ones in the West Philippine Sea's Pag-Asa island which is under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Kalayaan wherein it can provide supplies to this key outpost of the country amidst the contestations that took place within the area wherein it has been claimed by multiple nations just like the other features situated in the Kalayaan Island Group, with China being the greatest threat as of this article's publishing.

Also mentioned in the quoted information is the aircraft's simpler system architecture in which it connotes lower operating costs that a service branch like the Philippine Air Force considers as its utility came with the consideration of the organization's budgeting in mind as its funding, like in the case of other government agencies, came with limitations especially with recent realignments that are needed in more prioritized matters such as the current efforts in curbing the effects of the global pandemic, not to mention that it minimizes the burden of the service branch in terms to its upkeep.

Basic specifications of the aircraft. Screengrab Source.

Additional information on the aircraft's specifications can be seen on this link here.

Given the information above, the C-295 Medium Lift Aircraft can also be equipped with different armaments that are usually found on a varied C-295 of a different designation and purpose aside from its usual cargo roles wherein its details will be discussed thoroughly at the next sub-topic of this article covering different variants of the aircraft which play a different role depending to a country's military requirements.

The aircraft is powered by two Pratt &Whitney Canada PW127G turboprop engines which has a maximum continuous rating of 3058 ESHP or Equivalent Shaft Horsepower (2281 kW), far better than its predecessors such as the PW127A with just having a maximum continuous rating of 2620 ESHP or Equivalent Shaft Horsepower (1954 kW) which is certified in 1997, five years after the first PW127 series engine was certified in 1992.

Concerning its fuselage,  it has a length of 24.45 meters which is a bit stretched longer than its CN-235 counterpart which bears at around 21.35 meters, bearing a significant difference of around 3.1 meters whilst its other dimensions include a wingspan of 25.81 meters which is also similar to the CN-235 as well as having a minimal difference to each aircraft's height wherein the C-295 came with 8.66 meters as opposed to the 8.18 meters of the CN-235.

With its stretched fuselage, it is not surprising that the C-295 Medium Lift Aircraft can have the capacity to carry more personnel than its CN-235 counterpart as the former is capable of carrying 71 personnel or passengers onboard as opposed to the latter's 44 personnel or passenger capacity, although the C-130 is more capable in terms to its cargo loadout than these two platforms mentioned as it is justified as this platform is larger than the likes of the C-295 which is why it categorizes as a Medium Lift platform.

Both the C-295 Medium Lift Aircraft and its CN-235 counterpart are capable of flying at the cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, a bit higher than what both the C-130H and C-130J-30 can manage with 28,000 feet and 18,000 feet, respectively whilst the range of these cargo aircraft vary to its loading capacity with the C-130H having 2,049nm at a full load and a 4,522nm without cargo and the C-130J-30 having a 2,450nm at 40,000lb payload as opposed to the C-295 and CN-235, bearing 2,430nm (or 2,000nm with 6 tons of payload) and 1,550nm respectively.

Given the specification that the C-295 tactical transport aircraft obtains, it suffices the need to its requirement as a Medium Lift Platform as it is capable enough to carry an adequate amount of personnel and supplies on areas that only require such resources to allocate, in which other airlifting platforms as the C-130H and the soon-to-have C-130J-30 can be deployed on areas of concerned that needs expanded resources, augmenting one after the other in terms of the Armed Forces' logistics chain.

While the primary requirement of the C-295 is more on the cargo airlifting side of its capabilities especially with the case of the Philippine Air Force through its 220th Airlift Wing, it is also being considered on another role within this service branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines wherein it is seen as one of the candidates in an acquisition project that relates to maritime patrol.

A Chilean Navy C-295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). The Philippines is looking forward to obtaining a similar platform, among other competing platforms, for its own maritime patrol procurement.
Image Source.

Currently, the Armed Forces of the Philippines obtain C-295s of transport variant (C-295M) which composes its Medium Lift Aircraft Fleet, being essential in carrying the needed troops and military materiel at times of combat in areas concerned across the country especially with regards to Counter-Insurgency or COIN operations and on carrying relief goods and essential supplies at times that the country has struck by a natural calamity like an Earthquake or a Typhoon.

There are other variants aside from C-295 transporters that the Airbus Military/CASA provides for its prospective customers to consider and take based on the requirements that the end-user (such as a country's armed forces) to take which helps them advance their own duties and responsibilities that their respective nation and their laws instill unto them.

One of the variants included in this family of aircraft is the C-295 AEW&C or Airborne Early Warning and Control Platform wherein Israel's very own IAI/Elta Systems participated in creating this platform by configuring and equipping these original transport airlifters with rotodome, fitted with 4th Generation Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) as well as other sophisticated equipment such as the maritime search radar, IFF (Identity - Friend or Foe), and ESM or Electronic Support Measures.

Another variant of the C-295 is the Maritime Patrol Aircraft variant (as seen in the image above) in which such platform is helpful for maritime nations like the Philippines to have as it aims to secure the country's waters and augmenting the country's naval fleet as it is usually capable of anti-submarine warfare or ASW, anti-ship warfare or AShW, and Search and Rescue operations in case a maritime disaster happened at sea within national jurisdiction.

With these variants, a C-295 platform can be configured to any of the platforms aforementioned here and a manufacturer like Airbus Military/EADS-CASA provided it as an option for any potential military customers to consider, which adds further to the already-affirmed credibility of the product in catering its capabilities worth utilizing to its end-user.


The Philippine Air Force's decision of having Medium-Lift Transporter Aircraft like the C-295 goes per the Flight Plan initiative under the R.A. 10349 or the Revised AFP Modernization Program wherein it will augment the larger, more capable C-130s that the service branch obtains as well as the F-27 Fokker Friendship aircraft which is the platform it intends to replace in the long run.

Its transport capabilities help the Air Force allocate its resources accordingly, wherein these Medium-Lift platforms are operating as intended within the service branch's requirements while the Heavy-Lift ones are being assigned into roles that its capability is needed which enhance the logistical roles of the service branch in the times of need.

While it primarily aims to transport military troops and equipment as well as supplies that are needed in combat for the constant supplement of resources that helps determine the tide of war, these airlifters are also essential in providing aid and relief goods to areas affected by natural calamities as part of the Armed Forces' Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response operations, justifying the need of additional unit of such aircraft for this role.

Serving several Armed Forces in multiple countries across the world, it shows that a platform like the C-295 Medium Lift Cargo Aircraft is reputable enough wherein Airbus Military through its EADS/CASA subsidiary showcase more variants of the aircraft especially the C-295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft that may stand a chance with regards to the Philippine Air Force Long Range Patrol Aircraft Acquisition Project given the logistics it has in having a common platform within its inventory.

Adding more assets of this type, as well as with other units and military assets of various roles and capabilities ranging from logistical chains to combat weaponry prowess may help the Armed Forces of the Philippines improve its duties and responsibilities instilled in it which is to defend the country and its citizenry as well as helping the affected in times of need, bringing the catalyst of assured security and progress that the whole country needs to develop further to its betterment as a nation.

(c) 2020 PDA.


obg said...

improve your grammar. please.

Pitz Orpiano said...

Thank you for your suggestion, we will have this content and upcoming ones improved in terms of grammar along the way.

This serve as an acknowledgement that will address this issue.

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