The Myanmar Air Force (MAF) is buying two (2) used Airbus CASA C295 aircraft worth US$38.6 million from the Royal Jordanian Air Force. While Airbus, based in the EU, would be prevented from entering such a deal directly by the bloc’s arms embargo against Myanmar, the Middle Eastern kingdom has no such sanctions preventing the sale. The new aircraft from Jordan are transport planes to replace the military’s ageing fleet of Chinese-made Y-8s. However, CASA C295s can be outfitted to deploy paratroopers or serve as gunships. According to The Irrawaddy, Myanmar Air Force had five Y-8 transport planes until one of them crashed in the Andaman Sea in June 2017, killing all 122 passengers and crew. Since then, military leaders have opted against purchasing transport planes from China.
Some activists outside of Myanmar have warned that the deal poses a threat to ethnic minorities in Myanmar. While Airbus, based in the EU, would be prevented from entering such a deal directly by the bloc’s arms embargo against Myanmar, the Middle Eastern kingdom has no such sanctions preventing the sale. The move is said to allow the Myanmar government to avoid the arms embargo imposed to them by the European Union (EU) in 2018, since Jordan has no sanctions imposed against Myanmar. Myanmar is under an arms embargo by EU due to human rights violations against the ethnic Muslim Rohingya in 2016. This is addition to an existing embargo due to a bloody military takeover of the civilian government in 1988.
A Myanmar-based company, Aero Sofi, was said to be facilitating the deal on behalf of Myanmar and Jordan. Under the deal, Aero Sofi will also help provide training to eight pilots and four mechanics would receive training “at the facility of Airbus-CASA military training services in Seville Spain” or another location. If completed, Airbus support and certified training would breach the EU arms embargo on Myanmar. Airbus and their partners must ensure the Myanmar Air Force is denied the use of Airbus technology. Justice For Myanmar said it was unable to confirm the current status of the sale but that it is scheduled to be completed on December 30. Airbus did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The EADS CASA C-295 is a twin-turboprop tactical military transport aircraft manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in Spain, and Indonesian Aerospace in Indonesia as CN-295. The C-295 is manufactured and assembled in the Airbus Defence and Space facilities in San Pablo Airport, located in Seville, Spain. It is a development of the Spanish–Indonesian transport aircraft CASA/IPTN CN-235, but with a stretched fuselage, 50% more payload capability and new Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprop engines.