SPAIN HAS shown an interest in the new CASA C-295 (CASA C-295 makes first flight, March 99, p10) and has apparently ordered an initial batch of nine aircraft. The first of these has been funded and is expected to be delivered to the Ejercito del Aire (EdA, Spanish Air Force) next year with the remaining eight supplied by the end of 2002. On February 15 CASA signed a deal with Sextant Avionique for its Topdeck avionics suite for the C-295 and the CN-235-300.
A number of other developments in the EdA have been revealed recently. The prototype upgrade for the Mirage FI fleet, C. 14-20, arrived at Albacete in February following modification in Belgium and will now undergo testing. Upgrades to the reconnaissance capabilities of the RF-4C Phantoms operated by 123 Escuadron are to continue, as are deliveries of additional surplus US Navy F/A-18A Hornets (News Briefs, April, p10). The Hornets will enable the type’s disposition to be reorganised, allowing for deployments to Gando AB in the Canaries (see page 50) and the return of the Mirage FIs based there to Albacete.
Aircraft being considered for replacement programmes are the Boeing 707s, CASA 101s, F-5s and TH-55 helicopters — a decision concerning the Boeing 707s is expected this year.
The Spanish Army is to reserial its AS.332B Super Puma and AS.532UL Cougar fleets. The Super Pumas based at El Copera will have their HT.21- serials replaced by those in the HU.21-range. The new Cougars, to be based at Betera, were ordered on February 20, 1996, and were to have worn serials in the HT.21UC- range, these will now be replaced by HU.21L- serials. The first three Cougars were delivered to Spain last year and were initially based at Colmenar Viejo, Madrid. This year Eurocopter should deliver three more to Betera where they will join BHELMA-II. 1998 also saw the retirement of some of the Army’s oldest Bo-105 helicopters; these are currently stored at Colmenar Viejo awaiting a decision on their future.