2013-10-26 Kazakhstan is the first member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to buy the Airbus Military C-295s.
CIS fleets are stocked with Ukrainian and Russian airlifters, so this is unusual.
Recently, Kazakhstan announced that they would buy additional C-295s, which was already envisioned in the original agreement signed in 2012.
In the Airbus Military press release of October 24, 2013, the event was noted and highlighted.
Airbus Military has signed a contract with Kazspecexport, a State Company belonging to the Ministry of Defence of Kazakhstan, to supply two C295 military transport aircraft plus the related service support package for spare parts and ground support equipment.
This order is implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed in 2012 between the Ministry of Defence of Kazakhstan and Airbus Military for the procurement of eight C295s in total and on the basis of which two C295s were already delivered in 2013.
The first two C295s are already in service with the Kazakhstan Air Forces and the third and fourth are planned for delivery in 2014 and 2015 respectively. With regards to the remaining four aircraft in the MoU, a delivery schedule will be defined over the coming years.
So what are the Kazakhs using the planes for?
According to the Kazakh Ministry of Defense the contribution of the aircraft is clear:
The C-295 is successfully operated by Air Forces of 15 countries such as Spain, France, Finland and others. Kazakhstan has become the first state-customer of this aircraft in CIS region…. The aircraft will reduce costs of maintenance, retraining of pilots and engineering staff.
Additionally, the MOD added in an additional statement:
Increasing the air transportation opportunities of military aviation capable of transporting troops, weapons and military equipment to any strategic direction without intermediate stops for refueling is the result of the fleet’s modernization.
An insight with regard to how the planes are to be used was provided as well by a news report dating from February 2013, which looked at the initial Kazakh pilot training.
Yerken Dzhumagaliyev, the Air Forces’ Deputy Commander-in-Chief for Eduction, Social and Legal Work said that operational life of the An-26 aircrafts in Kazakhstan’s fleet expires in 2014-2015. To replace them, the militarymen made a survey of the market of military aircrafts with the carrying capacity up to 10 tons (60-70 seats).
The analysis included criteria like modern navigation system, ability to takeoff and land on artificial, soft and short runways, ability to reach to any destination point in Kazakhstan without additional filling, operation in sharply continental climate conditions, etc.
C-295 aircrafts were selected.
Their main purpose is transportation of personnel, cargoes and airmobile inserts. Besides, the plane can be used for medical purposes.
The C-295s were delivered to Astana on January 17, 2013.
Thus, Kazakhstan has become the first user of these aircrafts in CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).
“Updating the Air Force fleet will significantly improve mobility of our Armed Forces. These are the first birds, but the fleet will be further expand. We are planning to purchase the total of 8 aircrafts of this kind.
They can fully replace the An-26 planes,” Dzhumagaliyev said.
A news report (February 16, 2013) from Kazakhstan focused on the arrival of the first C-295s to the country can be seen in the video below:
For Richard Weitz’s look at the dynamics in the region see the following: