The French General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) awarded joint contractors Sabena Technics Bod and Thales Avs France SAS a framework agreement relating to the renovation of the cockpit of the French Air Force CN235-200 and CN235-300, the oldest of which has been in service since 1992. The framework agreement includes the firm part of the development, qualification and certification of the avionics modification of the CN235 and the delivery at the end of 2026 of a prototype for each of the 2 versions of the aircraft, one corresponding to the CN235 version -200 and the other to the CN235-300 version.
The firm part of the contract amounts to 107 million euros including tax. The objective is to replace the current avionics of aircraft with modern avionics allowing their operation until 2040. The objective of this upgrade is to bring the aircraft into compliance with the new international air navigation standards to enable them to continue to integrate into civil air traffic by increasing navigation precision and replacing obsolete equipment. The renovation will also improve navigation performance for tactical missions. The modernization of all 27 aircraft in the fleet will take place between 2026 and 2031.
The CASA/IPTN CN-235 is a medium-range twin-engined transport aircraft that was jointly developed by CASA of Spain (now Airbus Military) and Indonesian manufacturer IPTN (now PTDI) The vast majority of CN-235s have been produced for military customers, several airlines have opted to buy limited numbers for regional services as well. In addition to the standard aircraft, specialised CN-235s have been configured into armed gunships and maritime patrol aircraft. Over 230 of all versions of CN-235 are in service, and the type has reportedly accumulated more than 500,000 flight hours. Its largest user is Turkey, which operates 59 aircraft.
The French Air Force CN235 fleet, divided into 19 CN235-200 and 8 CN235-300, is operated in mainland France, overseas and in the context of external operations for support to the population, search and rescue, medical and sanitary evacuations, logistics transport with the ability to land on rough runways and troop and load drop missions. CN-235-200 is Spanish-built and still in production. CN-235-300 is a CASA modification of 200/220 series, with the Honeywell International Corp. avionics suite. Other features include improved pressurization and provision for optional twin-nosewheel installation.