The CASA CN-235 light tactical transport was designed and developed under a joint initiative by Spain’s CASA and Indonesia’s IPTN. They founded the Airtech concern in 1980 to develop a robust aircraft that could serve both as a military transport and a regional airliner. The CN-235 has all the classic elements of a military transport, including a rear-loading ramp, high wing and rough-field landing gear. The aircraft is powered by a pair of proven General Electric CT7 turboprops, and is capable of dropping troops and supplies from its side doors and rear ramp. Military design features predominated in the CN-235 and it had little success in the commercial market. However is has become popular with air forces worldwide, fitting into a niche below the capacity and costs of the C-130 Hercules.
Two prototypes were built with CASA’s example making the first flight on 11 November 1983. The initial production variant was the CN-235 Series 10, powered by CT-7A engines. Military variants were designated CN-235M-10s and aircraft were delivered to Botswana, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Spain (as the VIP-configured T.19A) and the UAE. The improved CN-235M-100 followed, powered by uprated CT7C engines. The Series 100 introduced a major step forward in performance. IPTN-built aircraft were designated CN-235M-ll0s. Customers include Chile, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Indonesia, Ireland, Morocco, Oman, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, South Korea, Spain (T.19B), Turkey and the UAE.
The CN-235M-200 (IPTN -220) introduced higher operating weights and still better performance. It has been acquired by Indonesia and Malaysia.
Turkey signed a licence-production deal in 1990 to build 50 of its 52 aircraft. These were delivered between 1992 and 1998. Manufacturer TAI is now working on a maritime patrol version for Turkey. CASA developed its own maritime patrol version, the CN-235IVIP Persuader which is in service in Ireland. IPTN has also been working on its own maritime patrol version, the CN-235IVIPA, but its development has been slow and only a prototype has been built.
In 1997 CASA announced the independently-developed C-295. The C-295 is 10 ft 5 in (3.05 m) longer than the CN-235, increasing its payload by over 50 per cent. The C-295 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprops, and is fitted with a Sextant Topdeck EFIS cockpit. A technology demonstrator made its maiden flight on 28 November 1997 and the first production-standard C-295 flew on 22 December 1998.