By Craig Hoyle
Future assembly of the C-212 light transport is likely to move to Indonesia as part of an Airbus Military initiative to reduce the type's unit cost and allow its Spanish facilities to be dedicated to producing the larger CN-235 and C-295 models.
"The question is: can we find an industrial arrangement on which we can continue to produce this aircraft in a very competitive way," says Airbus Military managing director Domingo Ureña.
"We are working with our colleagues in Indonesia to see how we can jointly offer this product to the market," he reveals. Airbus Military has a long-standing partnership with Indonesian Aerospace on the CN-235, and Ureña says "an agreement has been reached" to extend this to also include assembly of the C-212.
Ureña believes the C-212 can continue to meet requirements for operators in regions such as Asia Pacific, but says: "We need to be able to offer a cheap price. I hope in the short- to medium-term to go back to the market and say that we have the solution."
Airbus Military is close to concluding a deal with Thailand for an undisclosed number of C-212s configured for fisheries protection duties. The company has also been selected to provide Vietnam with five, although a contract has yet to be signed.
Developed initially for the Spanish air force and first flown in 1971, more than 480 C-212s have been ordered. It is now offered in its -400 production standard, a configuration that is less than 10 years old.
Meanwhile, senior vice-president commercial Antonio Rodriguez-Barberán says Airbus Military is also "starting to consider not a replacement for the C-212, but a re-engineering of the aircraft to make it more modern".
Airbus Military delivers around 24 CN-235s and C-295s a year from its San Pablo site near Seville, Spain, but has not yet produced the C-212 on its new assembly line.
The company is believed to have initiated early studies on the development of a larger successor for both the CN-235 and C-295, but officially says that it is in no rush to replace the types.