Airbus' A321neo LR Could Be A Perfect Platform For A Future European Maritime Patrol Aircraft

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Naval Defense Industry News - Europe
 
 
 
Airbus' A321neo LR Could Be A Perfect Platform For A Future European Maritime Patrol Aircraft
 
Our colleagues from the French strategic and defense newsletter "TTU" published an interesting analysis of a possible military application for Airbus' latest airliner project. During a press conference held in Toulouse on January 13, Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO, announced the imminent launch of a new "Long Range" version of the A321 airliner.
     
Official U.S. Navy file photo of an artist rendering of the Future Naval Capability project Transformable Craft, or T-Craft. Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) principal scientist Steve Anderson received the 2014 NATO Science and Technology Organization's Scientific Achievement Award for impacting a task group's work - including T-Craft research - in support of NATO. In his research, Anderson used modeling and simulation to explore the effectiveness of T-Craft for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. The potential future U.S. and allied Navy air cushion vehicle could serve many purposes, including the transport of equipment and personnel between locations at sea and ashore during humanitarian assistance, disaster recovery, and major combat operations. (U.S. Navy graphic illustration by Victor Strickland/Released)
Computer rendering of the Airbus A321neo LR commercial airliner. Air Lease Corporation (ALC) is the first customer. This aircraft could be the base for a future European MPA. Picture: Airbus
     
Scheduled for entry into service in late 2018 and named "A321neo LR", this aircraft will be developed from the cell of the new A321neo and will have transatlantic range. It will be capable of flying 100 more nautical miles compared to the Boeing 757-200W used on the commercial segment. The aircraft will have a practical operating range of 3900 nautical miles thanks to the three additional fuel tanks increasing the range by about 500 nautical miles (compared to the standard A321neo performance).

With the new A321neo LR project, Airbus will be able to design a credible (and affordable) successor to the Atlantique (ATL 2) and P-3 Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft currently used extensively among NATO members. Both types of MPAs fitted with turboprop engines are getting old despited several modernization and update programs. At present, there are only two types of MPAs fitted with turbofan engines:
- Boeing's P-8 Poseidon which has the fuselage of a 737-800 and the wings of a 737-900 commercial aircraft (130 P-8A ordered by the US Navy to replace the P-3 Orion and 8 P-8I ordered the Indian Navy to replace Il-18 "May").
- Kawasaki's P-1 which was designed from a clean sheet for maritime patrol missions. Because of this and the relatively limited production numbers (so far, only Japan has placed orders for the type) its price is a problem for potential export. The Japanese government however is apparently trying to market the P-1 to the UK.
     
Official U.S. Navy file photo of an artist rendering of the Future Naval Capability project Transformable Craft, or T-Craft. Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) principal scientist Steve Anderson received the 2014 NATO Science and Technology Organization's Scientific Achievement Award for impacting a task group's work - including T-Craft research - in support of NATO. In his research, Anderson used modeling and simulation to explore the effectiveness of T-Craft for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. The potential future U.S. and allied Navy air cushion vehicle could serve many purposes, including the transport of equipment and personnel between locations at sea and ashore during humanitarian assistance, disaster recovery, and major combat operations. (U.S. Navy graphic illustration by Victor Strickland/Released)
Computer rendering of an A319MPA in Indian Navy colors. Picture: Airbus Military
     
Airbus current MPAs, based on the CN235 and CN295, or Alenia's ATR 72 MPA all lack range (ocean capacities) and have limited weapons payload capacity when compared to the existing ATL2, P-3 Orion and the new generation P-8 and P-1. Ten years ago, the German branch of Airbus conducted studies on A320MPA and A319MPA for the German Navy. The A321neo LR should prove to be the most sensible basis for a future European MPA.

In addition, every systems and sub-systems suppliers already exist in Europe to turn the A321neo LR into an "ITAR free" MPA likely to interest several countries. This an opportunity and Airbus should not miss it, supported by European engine and equipment manufacturers.
 

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