MANILA, Philippines – The brand new transport plane of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is ready for deployment in time for Typhoon Chedeng (Maysak) that is expected to make landfall Saturday evening, April 4, according to spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Enrico Canaya.
“It can transport HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) requirements like rescue teams, medical teams, and relief goods depending on what is needed,” Canaya said.
The PAF formally received on Monday, March 30, the first of 3 brand new C295s from Spanish firm Airbus Military.
The medium lift-fixed wing aircraft is the equivalent of the F-27 Fokker transport aircraft in the existing inventory of the PAF. But unlike the Fokker, the C295 has an open ramp at the backside to allow for easier loading and unloading of passengers and cargoes.
“It’s like a C-130 with lesser payload,” Canaya said.
The military would have preferred the C130s but the budget allocation can only afford medium lift aircraft.
The need for more cargo planes was recognized after the back-to-back disasters of 2013 – the Zamboanga siege, the Bohol earthquake, and Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). The military only has 3 operational C130 cargo planes.
In the aftermath of Yolanda, the Philippines relied on cargo planes provided by foreign militaries to transport relief goods into the typhoon-ravaged island provinces and evacuate people out of these areas.
The C295 can carry up to 71 passengers, 50 paratroops, 24 stretchers with 5 to 7 attendants or up to about 20,000 pounds of cargos. It is also capable of short field landing and takeoff.
The delivery of 2 more units is scheduled next year although the military is hoping for an earlier delivery. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com