The RCAF has often commented on the multi-mission roles of its future fleets, but it’s unlikely requirements staff included missile capability on the next fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft.

Airbus Military and MBDA recently demonstrated the release of an instrumented Marte MK2/S anti-ship inert missile from under the wing of the C295 maritime patrol aircraft. The C295, of course, is the Airbus entrant in the Canadian FWSAR program. At this year’s Air Force Outlook, Directorate of Air Requirements staff said a draft RFP could be ready by this summer.

In a press release, Airbus said the “installation of weapons under the wings provides new operational capabilities to the C295 MPA allowing the aircraft to perform new missions demanded by the customers. In the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) role, the C295 is already in-service carrying the MK46 torpedo.”

Canada has not indicated missile or torpedo requirements in a search and rescue capacity, but it has begun a process of exploring options for replacement of the CP-140 maritime patrol aircraft. Though the Auroras are still undergoing a significant modernization program and could see their service extended well through the next two decades, RCAF Commander LGen Yvan Blondin has said he is interested in a multi-mission option that is less expensive than the Boeing P-8 or the Lockheed Martin C-130J and could include UAVs as part of a package capable of fulfilling the ASW role.

The C295 trial was also intended to prove the operational versatility of the Marte missile in the medium weight anti-ship missile sector. The MBDA Marte MK2/S is a “fire-and-forget, all-weather, medium-range sea-skimming anti-ship weapon system, equipped with inertial mid-course guidance and radar homing terminal guidance, and capable of destroying small vessels and heavily damaging major vessels.” The missile has a weight of 310 Kg and is 3.85 m long. The Marte Mk2/S is already integrated on the AW-101 and the NFH (Naval NH90) helicopters in service with the Italian Navy and integration activities for the Marte ER on the Eurofighter Typhoon are currently underway.