The Mexican Navy has received the fourth and final Airbus Military CN235-300 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) from EADS North America under a US foreign military sales (FMS) agreement.
The delivery follows a $157.6m contract awarded to EADS, along with spares, ground support equipment and associated training.
The CN235-300 maritime patrol aircraft is capable of carrying 6t of payload and can cruise at a maximum speed of 454km/h, climb at the rate of 7.8m/s, with a range of 5,055km and a service ceiling of 7,620m.
Based on the airframe as US Coast Guard's HC-144A Ocean Sentry, the aircraft is fitted with forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system and search radar that enables locating and tracking of ships while supporting thorough coastline patrols.
Additional features of the aircraft that make it suitable for Mexican Navy's military surveillance missions include the automatic identification system (AIS) and the Airbus Military-designed fully integrated tactical system (FITS).
The FITS has been designed to display the data gathered by a comprehensive battery of sensors to the two tactical operators to help execute their mission.
Capable of providing hot and high performance, in-flight refuelling and higher rated pressurisation, the aircraft incorporates twin nosewheels for improved operations on short and unprepared runways.
The new CN235 is intended to enhance Mexico's ability to perform missions, including homeland security, search and rescue, military readiness, cargo and personnel transport, drug interdiction, as well as maritime environmental protection.
The US Coast Guard, which manages the FMS of the aircraft, uses the HC-144A Ocean Sentry for performing missions that range from search and rescue to drug interdiction.
Image: The US Coast Guard employs the CN235-300 in the HC-144A Ocean Sentry configuration. Photo: courtesy of ICGS.