Singapore - Airbus is studying the possibility of offering a military version of the A320neo. According to the President of Airbus Military Planes, there is a significant market for an A320neo aircraft equipped for maritime patrol or surveillance.
A military version of the Airbus' best selling aircraft. The idea is not new, but it resurfaces at Airbus. Fernando Alonso, Head of the Military Aircraft division of Airbus Defence & Space announced in Singapore that studies are underway to propose militarized versions of the A320neo.
We think there is a market, and we have started negotiations with several potential customers,he said.
The aircraft could be offered in SRI (Surveillance and Intelligence), Maritime Patrol (MPA) or VIP transport, with significant communication capabilities and defence systems. Airbus intends to offer the market a modular and flexible platform.
In the 2000s, Airbus had already worked on a maritime patrol version of the A320, a project that seemed forgotten today. The European manufacturer believes now it can rely on a more successful version of the A320.
Fernando Alonso also emphasized the experience gained with the A330 MRTT program demonstrating Airbus' ability to modify a civil aircraft for military purposes. Airbus can also rely on know-how related to the development of the different variants of the C295. The larger A320 neo, however, would be able to accommodate more complete and powerful systems than those embedded on C295.
This offer emerges a few months after the mention of a possible Franco-German cooperation for the replacement of the ATL2 and P-3 in service on each side of the Rhine. The A320 neo MPA could appear as a response to this need.
The militarized A320neo can also appear as a response to the different military versions of the Boeing 737. The American aircraft manufacturer has already recorded over a hundred orders for the P-8, a version dedicated to the maritime patrol.
Australia, Turkey, and South Korea have selected 737 in AEW&C (Airborne Early Warning and Control) version. Boeing believes that there is a large market for militarized versions of 737.
Airbus also announced that it has launched studies to expand the capabilities of the A330 MRTTs. A version called "Smart MRTT" with increased connectivity and SRI capabilities.