Equipped With Turkish Bombs, Are Airbus Jets Getting Overhauled For Strike Missions?

A new photo has surfaced on the internet showing an Airbus C295 tactical transport aircraft carrying no fewer than four Turkish-made precision-guided bombs on its left and right hardpoints under the wings.

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The image was taken by a Spanish photographer Santi Blánquez, showing an Airbus C295 aircraft with military registration EC-296, carrying four 500-pound bombs fitted with the Turkish Roketsan Teber guidance kit during a test sortie at Airbus facility in Seville, Spain.

The development assumes significance in view of the company’s new efforts in the development of a new armed version of the aircraft, converting it into an effective transporter-strike platform with these latest trials.

The armed version of the C295 came into light at the Dubai Airshow in 2017, showing the propeller-driven aircraft modified for carrying out intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and strike missions. Reportedly, the aircraft was developed due to the interest of its customers and users in the Middle East and North Africa.

Two versions of the armed C-295 are offered, one being more heavily configured for carrying weapons than the other. Similarities include Electro-Optical/InfraRed (EO/IR) sensors below the nose, with a surveillance radar below the fuselage.

Self-protection suites and communication systems are integrated too. The lighter-armed variant uses two .50 cal machine guns mounted at the fuselage doors, manually aimed. While the armed variant comes with 4 underwing hardpoints, able to carry out a variety of strike missions.

According to TheDrive, the variant shown in the images is based around Airbus’s own Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS), which integrates different sensors and weapons and has been installed in dozens of aircraft already.

Thomas Newdick, a popular defense analyst, mentions that when the aircraft was unveiled, Airbus had already teamed up with the Turkish firm, Roketsan, to provide the guided weapons as well as the 500-pound-class Teber guided bombs, seen in the picture. The options include up to 16 L-UMTAS lightweight laser-guided air-to-ground missiles or pods for 2.75-inch Cirit laser-guided rockets.

Another option is the Spanish-made Expal CAT-70 unguided rocket, carried in pods provided by the Brazilian company Equipaer.

He also says that equipping the aircraft with non-American weaponry was a notable decision to break away from the possible restrictions posed in the international market via the US’ International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) guidelines, which can limit the transfer of defense and military technologies and services.