C295 and the MPA requirement

A C295 undergoing checks at Airbus DS facility at Seville, Spain

SHAH ALAM: IN my recent reports on the MPA requirement, I stated that the CN235 is probably the favourite to win the programme if the funding goes ahead for RMK11. But it appears that the CN235 may not be able to take part at all as the Airbus Defence and Space C295 may take precedent over the IPTN built aircraft.

At the recent Airbus DS TMB briefing, I asked whether both the CN235 and C295 will compete for the same MPA programme (I did not mentioned Malaysia as the programme has yet to be officially announced). The answer from Airbus DS Light & Medium, ISR and UAS Marketing Director Fernando Cirla was that the C295 will take precedent above the CN235. I got a more definitive answer from an Airbus DS higher-up later that night but since that conversation was officially off-the-record, I will leave it at that.

An Airbus C295 medium transport aircraft undergoing tests at Airbus DS facility at Seville, Spain.
An Airbus C295 medium transport aircraft undergoing tests at Airbus DS facility at Seville, Spain.

In my post on RMK11, I wrote that “During his winding-up speech for RMK11 at Parliament on June 15, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein stated that among others, the Royal Malaysian Air Force will procuring MPA in phases. It was the only new asset for RMAF which he had stated during the speech.

Industry sources have since informed Malaysian Defence that 4 MPA will be procured. However there was no indication the type of MPA to be selected. I am assuming that the most likely candidate will be the CN-235 MPA that was displayed during LIMA 2015 by PT Dirgantra of Indonesia. The aircraft was fitted with the Thales AMASCOS.”

CN235 MPA of TNI-AL displayed at LIMA 2015.
CN235 MPA of TNI-AL displayed at LIMA 2015.

With the latest development however, it appears those plans may not work out after all. It must be noted that the CN-235 was developed together between CASA of Spain and Nurtanio of Indonesia hence the CN designation. Both companies have now evolved into Airbus DS and PT Dirgantara, respectively.

An Airbus C295W undergoing tests at Airbus DS facility at Seville, Spain.
An Airbus C295W undergoing tests at Airbus DS facility at Seville, Spain.

And unlike its older brother, the bigger C295 was developed solely by CASA before it was folded into Airbus DS (though the Spain government still hold the majority in CASA which in turn now hold shares in Airbus DS and probably Airbus Group as well).

At the briefing it was obvious that Airbus DS has high hopes for the C295 hence its preference over the CN-235.

Virtues of the C295
Virtues of the C295

With its bigger airframe, the C295 has a higher endurance and larger payload for a variety of taskings (it has 50 per cent more payload than the CN235). The higher endurance is notable especially for low level flights which may be needed for the maritime patrol role.

RMAF CN235 M44-05. TUDM picture.
RMAF CN235 M44-05. TUDM picture.

However for RMAF to choose the C295 over the CN235 its not that simple. The engines are different, the C295 uses PW127G turboprop engine while the RMAF’s seven 235s are equipped with the GE CT7-9C. The avionics are different of course. The cost of the C295 is also likely to be more expensive than the CN235, a major factor that needs to be considered.

The roles for the C295
The roles for the C295

As seen from the graphic above, the C295 could also be used for AAR refueling using a roll-on-roll of system. The system is being qualified on the aircraft as of now but it is expected to be cleared for use by next year.

Versatile MPA
Versatile MPA

In theory, all of the roles of the C295 also apply to the CN235 but due its lower payload and endurance, it can carry less of the items of the larger variant.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2225 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. I remembered that before TUDM bought CN-235 from Indonesia, Alenia was offering its G-222 to TUDM as the MPAs. The CN-235(s) were supposed to be fitted with maritime sensors for the MP duties.
    Short of funds, proposed programme scrapped.

    CN-250 was the main contender until 1997-98 Tomyum Kung crisis caused CN-250 to be scrapped.Now, CN-295 is in the limelight.It this just another vapourised story?

    Of course at the end of the day whether or not things are procured is money. Unfortunately I am not a fortune teller, just a reporter, so I cannot say whether or not money will be available for the MPA programme or other things for defence. The best indicator is the price of oil and other commodities, if its stays at today’s prices, things will be very gloomy indeed.

  2. @ Ahmad Zaki

    Did you mean N-250?

    Cause there is no CN-250.

    The N-250 was an indeginous aircraft developed by IPTN in the 90s. It was scrapped by the IMF.

  3. Marhalim,
    Your concern for the engine is non existent. Both engines are just as popular as each other. Plus, no matter what engine, the armed force themselves know no shit about it. Its the contractors that matters. Where else for the contractor, the 127 is used on ATR and 415. Its basically the same old PW100 for the past 30 years… And they are the cheapest out there, way cheaper than GE product.

  4. Marhalim
    What Dose The MPA Other Than C-295.The P-8A,R-99 and SJ-130 Sea Hercules or something

    Realistically the P8s et al are too expensive

  5. RMAF just tendered a service simulator training of Beechcraft 350i, any relation to the MPA programme?

    AFAIK no. The air force contracted simulator services for all of its platforms apart from those with its own simulators ie Hornets, MKMs, Hawks, The two Super King Airs are being used for training and liaison flights.

  6. There is a 3rd option.

    There is a few used cn235 out there (most numerous is the old merpati airlines fleet of cn235). 4-6 aircraft could be bought and be modified by thales to fit the amascos system.

    Do note that airbus defence would prefer its own FITS mpa system over the thales amascos, and maybe that is why they want to push the c295 platform.

  7. Indonesia’s PTDI can always submit an bid using the CN235 for the MPA requirement, independent of Airbus.

    But more importantly, will the current financial situation force ATM to reconsider converting existing CN235s? Are the existing planes too well used for conversion?

    Not really as the rights of the aircraft also belongs to Airbus DS. AFAIK our CN235s have not been heavily tasked since entering service.

  8. traditional fossil O&G players know that oil prices will remain at current range for next few years, and most probably going lower if shale oil production cost can be cheaper
    just hope MY gov have new formula of budget with current commodities prices.

  9. Marhalim,
    You know that the P-8A Is The Only Way we used but I Prefer the C-295 Or Poseidon.If We Get The C-295,We could get the All Of The Version Including the Gunship version.About the Poseidon That was too Expensive but I’ts usefull cause the Long range Radar and ASW Version

  10. D.W says: November 15, 2015 at 6:43 pm
    @ Ahmad Zaki
    Did you mean N-250? Cause there is no CN-250. The N-250 was an indeginous aircraft developed by IPTN in the 90s.
    It was scrapped by the IMF.

    Yes, that is what I meant. I always called it CN-250 as reported in Indon Tv stations. The plane was named CN-250 initially even though internationally it was known as IPTN N-250.Casa was a part of it until it was scrapped. IPTN did not have the technology, CASA did.
    Habibie the foster son of Suharto rode on his special ties to run this project.

    In 1995, CASA launched development of a stretched CN-235 as the C-295.Courtesy of wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CASA/IPTN_CN-235

  11. The rights are jointly shared between the two parties. And this situation occurred in the Philippines when they bidded for their MPA. Both PTDI and Airbus submitted bids independent of one another.

  12. IMO, the endurance be5etwen CN234 and C295 is not that much. Even the CN 235 encurance excess 10 hours. Why need more?
    Why select the bigger C295 if the smaller CN 235 can do the same job while there is a significant cost beetwen them.

    ATM could get the newest CN 235 MPA produced by PT DI. It has wing let design and there are some hardpoint on the wing which can be used fo external fuel or weapons.
    Using AMASCOS including flir, ocean master, night vision and bubble window this plane also can be used in SAR mission.

    C295 is fit for AEWC, too big for MPA.

  13. @ Romeo

    I think the PT DI CN-235 MPA is the first CN-235 variant with winglet. Don’t know if the Airbus CN-235 newer variants are also designed with winglet.

    @ Ahmad Zaki

    Indonesian still called it N250.

    Anyway Indonesian PT Regio Aviasi Industri (company owned by Habibie & son) together with PT DI is reviving the N250. The aircraft is now called the Regio Prop 80 (R80).

    “Habibie’s R80 Aircraft Prototype to Be Built in 2016”

    “It is known that the R80 is a direct successor of the N250 aircraft built by IPTN – now known as PT Dirgantara Indonesia. PT RAI is a commercial aircraft development company owned by BJ Habibie.”

  14. …,
    Indon origin, tropical environment,unpreserved for years, NO GO.

    Endurance has no meaning without considering the load and flight profile. To put it simple, loaded with equipment and full fuel + weaponry (in future), 295 offer 50% more.

    235 is not in the game until Airbus’s green light. And obviously, clearing internal path for 295 is the only way they can recovered the cost of the MPA variant that did not sell as well as they expect.

  15. H

    what do you mean about Indon origin, tropical environment and a no go?

    as all of us know, TUDM currently operating CN-235 for years and till now they had met any big problems during their operational services.

    H was referring to civilian 235s owned by an Indonesian airliner which have been stored after use as suggested by another reader. Aircraft stored in tropical conditions are typically corroded due to the humidity. He knows the 235s with TUDM are built in Indonesia.

  16. Romeo,
    Different CN235 MPA and C295 MPA is….
    1) C-295 MPA is full MPA with ASW capability, CN235 only MPA.
    2) C-295 more bigger and more payload, so can carry ASW torpedo and light Anti Ship Missile。
    3) C-295 due to space can install more terminal (6 unit) compare to 2 unit in CN-235
    4) more capability required more electric power so require more bigger plane.

    so in general depend Mindef/RMN/RMAF/MMEA study, usually if Gov just want MPA for patrol, than should go CN-235 and MMEA should be operator for patrol sea and SAR mission. if Mindef also want MPA with ASW capability than RMN should be the operator just like P-8 operate by Navy.

  17. yes Turkey Navy have CN-235 ASW version, they try to add all feature in to small plane, but at the end CN-235 was not able to fulfill the operational demands of Turkish Navy. so they add ATR-72 ASW plane in Meltem (III) program which more system and capability. ATR-72 ASW is main competitor of C-295 ASW.
    Turkish Coast Guard will take more CN-235 Meltem II plane without ASW.
    So i think Mindef/RMN/mmea should study clearly plane/feature/job. we can\’t go wrong select suitable plane due to limited budget.
    Ideally mmea should get 8 Cn-235 , RMN get 6~8 unit C-295 MPA + ASW. peninsular take half quantity

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