May 19, 2015
Airbus talking to SAAF on A400M, A330MRTT and C295
The A330MRTT is actively being marketed as a tanker with a dual VIP capability while the C295 is aimed at meeting the SAAF’s maritime surveillance/patrol requirements and the A400M is being offered as a C-130 Hercules replacement.
Airbus Military said that while there is currently no South African C-130 replacement programme at the moment, Airbus is keeping the SAAF and Department of Defence abreast of A400M developments.
The SAAF C-130BZ Hercules fleet is nearing the end of its service life. Out of nine aircraft in service, only around three are usually operational at any given time. The SAAF is believed to be exploring various options for a Hercules replacement, including new generation C-130J Super Hercules and the A400M - it was reported late last year that Germany was offering South Africa some of its production slots – of the 53 aircraft it has on order, Germany plans to sell 13 due to financial constraints.
The South African Department of Defence originally ordered eight A400Ms but cancelled the order in 2009. Denel Aerostructures and Aerosud continue to make components for Airbus in spite of the cancellation and recently received further work packages. Airbus remains confident that an order for the A400M may be forthcoming.
The A400M is being offered as a tactical transport able to carry up to 37 tons of cargo almost directly to where it is needed. In order to meet the SAAF’s tanking and other transport requirements, Airbus is proposing the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). Airbus believes that in light of South Africa’s external commitments on the continent, the A330MRTT makes a lot of sense as it is the only way the SAAF could deploy its Gripen fighters over long distances.
When the SAAF attempted to provide air support during the Battle of Bangui in the Central African Republic (CAR) in March 2013, the four Gripens had to make refuelling stops along the way, slowing their progress.