Airbus is a leading aircraft manufacturer, supporting a large number of large and small international aviation companies. Its commercial and cargo aircraft constantly undertake upgrades and improvements to stay adequate and suitable for the needs of the aviation industry. Together with Boeing, its major rival, the two manufacturers shape the future of air travel. Recent information suggests that Airbus could now be looking into developing a military version of one of its most recent aircraft – the A320neo.
Airbus Military Aircraft
Airbus Military was formed in 2009 as a separate business unit of Airbus but in 2014 the divisions Airbus Military, Astrium and Cassidian were united into one, forming the Airbus Defence and Space. Some of the products created as part of the military projects were the Airbus 330 MRTT, A400M, CASA C-212 Aviocar, CASA/IPTN CN-235 and the EADS CASA C-295.
The A320neo, on the other hand, is a member of the A320 Family of narrow-body airlines produced by the manufacturer for its commercial segment. Introduced on the market on the 1st of December, 2010, the A320neo completed its first flight on the 25th of September, 2014. Since then, the aircraft has received a lot of attention from the market as it is a reliable and modern airplane that can increase airlines’ capacity, improve customer experience and significantly reduce operating costs.
The Airbus military fleet may now be increased by one as there are speculations that Airbus may be considering the creation of a military version of the A320neo, which would be known as the A320neo Multi-Mission version.
According to Alonso, the new version of the A320neo Airbus military planes would be assigned to missions as VIP transport, surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance and maritime patrol
A Military A320neo
Earlier in 2018, the manufacturer shared with the industry that it had begun reviewing the options of creating a military version of its A320neo aircraft. The idea was announced by Fernando Alonso, the Head of Military Aircraft at Airbus Defence & Space. According to Alonso, the new version of the A320neo Airbus military planes would be assigned to missions as VIP transport, surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance and maritime patrol.
The reasons behind the concept are that the manufacturer has the full know-how on transforming the A330 into an A330 MRTT, increasing the efficiency of the engines and creating an aircraft of increased capabilities. It has been estimated that a transformation of this kind would require between six and eight months to complete. Furthermore, the manufacturer has begun examining the possibility of upgrading its current military platforms, such as the A400M, A330 MRTT, and C295, with new add-ons.
The new military version aircraft would make it possible for an A400M to drop 60 paratroopers at the same time from the two sides of the plane. The A330MRTT, for example, would be upgraded to provide automatic air-to-air resupplying of fuel.
Airbus has already entered discussions some regions’ armed forces, such as the Asia Pacific nations, including Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines. Talks have also been started with France, Germany, and the Netherlands.