LE BOURGET (AP) — Airbus's military division and state-run Israel Aerospace Industries said Tuesday they are to jointly develop a new airborne early warning and control aircraft.
Airbus spokeswoman Barbara Kracht said it will be the first time Airbus has worked with an Israeli company on any defense project.
Airbus Military CEO Domingo Urena and IAI Vice-President Nissim Hadas said in a statement they had signed a memorandum of understanding at the Paris Air Show, where a C295 early warning aircraft demonstration model has been displayed. Aerial early warning planes, or AWACS, watch and control airspace, warning of approaching enemy planes and sending vectoring planes to intercept.
The C295 is part of Airbus' popular family of light and medium airlifters, which also includes the smaller C212 and CN235 passenger and cargo aircraft. Earlier this month, Airbus unveiled a demonstration model of the twin turboprop design with a rotating radar dome mounted above the rear fuselage.
Initial flight trials have shown that the aircraft is aerodynamically an excellent platform despite the radar dome, Airbus said.
The United States, NATO nations, Russia, China and India all operate large early warning aircraft based on four-engine passenger jets or cargo aircraft. But Airbus and IAI said they see a growing demand for much smaller, simpler and cheaper planes with the capability to loiter for extended periods of time while providing airborne surveillance over long ranges.
"This cooperation ... will provide the market with a highly efficient and affordable solution, the first in this market segment," Urena said.
"Emerging conflicts across the globe are emphasizing the importance of special mission fleets. We are sure that by joining forces, we will offer the market the right solution with the right technology," said Hadas of IAI.
IAI and subsidiary ELTA are leaders in the development of airborne radar systems. Their radars already equip early warning aircraft operated by Israel, India, China and Singapore.