A C295 firing the optionally packed flares to defend against anti-aircraft projectiles (photo from airbusmilitary.com)

A C295 firing the optionally packed chaff flares to defend against anti-aircraft projectiles (photo from airbusmilitary.com)

European company Airbus has won the P5.3-billion contract to supply three medium-lift aircraft to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Thursday.

The first plane will be delivered in August 2015, the second in March 2016, and the last in September 2016, Gazmin said in a text message.

“These aircraft will help in troop and limited equipment movement,” the defense chief said.

Aircraft maker EADS CASA, now Airbus Military, had presented its C295 multi-mission plane in its bid for the contract.

Pag-Asa Island in the disputed Spratly island group with its "short, soft, and rough air strip."

Pag-Asa Island in the disputed Spratly island group with its “short, soft, and rough air strip.”

Among the C-295’s special features is its capability to take off and land on short, soft, and rough air strips, Airbus Military says on its website.

The plane can carry up to nine tons of payload or up to 71 personnel at a maximum cruise speed of 480 kph and altitudes of up to 25,000 feet. It also provides low fuel consumption and an endurance of up to 11 hours in the air, Airbus Military says.

The Department of National Defense said the Armed Forces will use the medium-lift aircraft in various missions, including those that involve territorial defense.

“The plan is to acquire medium lift fixed wing aircraft that can operate in any environment and will provide support for territorial defense, internal security operations, and disaster response,” the DND said in its bid invitation. (John Roson)

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