- Jun 12, 2021
Most ubiquitous MPAs till date were turbo props (P3, Il-38, Atalantic) compared to jet powered ones. Only recently we have seen the move to Jet powered ones P8 and Japanese P1. Turbofans are better at cursing , i.e. lower transit time but for ASW role usually means the aircraft has to come down to lower altitude and and loiter (i.e. advantage turbo props). So it's really a compromise. C-295 should do fine for SAR, and shorter range MPA role but its only 1/4 the size of P-8 so cant really compare the capabilities of the two. One alternative that I see is the Airbus A320 MPA proposal - its hasn't been fully funded AFAIK but might be something we can have a JV with the French, will need serious investment though, wont be easy to compete with a system that has had a production run of 100+, with the main customer taking care of debugging and assured upgrades to the platform.There are some glaring disadvantages to using it for maritime patroling, because it was not designed to cover long distances fast while being fuel efficient. Commercial long haul airliner (low fuel consuming turbofan) is the best platform for MPA conversion.
C-295 is designed as a medium tactical airlifter- meant to take off/land on short badly prepared runways. It's chonky landing gear housing should give an idea of the environment it feels most at home in:
Heavy MLG translating into less payload & range- is totally avoidable for planes that are based at INS Rajali with awesome infrastructure.
Secondly, C295 is a turboprop. That has speed & range disadvantages (both crucial for scanning the vast IOR) in the MPA role:
Shorter flights are more efficient in turboprops and longer flights more efficient in turbofans. Most turboprops are limited to Mach 0.5 to 0.6, and altitudes in the 35,000 foot range, with a handful of turboprops reaching the Mach 0.7 and 40,000 feet. Turboprops are better at lower altitudes and speeds, turbofans at higher altitudes and speeds.
P8I is based on the commercial airliner Boeing 737. The low speed will impact how much time you take to declare a certain ocean search area free of Chinese subs or indeed how soon you can scan and hunt them down. C295 has much lesser range than the 737, it is much smaller also.
It can be done but is far from ideal. Just a look at their ferry range (one among many other parameters):
ERJ-145 3,700 kms (Netra AEW&CS)
C295 1,555 kms
P8A 8,300 kms
Turboprop and turbofan engines appear to be radically different machines. How do the fundamental differences in each engine type affect the safety, efficiency and performance…airplaneacademy.com