Canadian American Strategic Review


Replacing the


 A  Modest

In Detail

DND 101

Background  —  Aurora Alternatives  —  EADS  MPA320 / MPA319

MPA320  –   EADS'  Maritime  Cheshire Cat
The MPA320 was designed to meet MPA-R –
a German-Italian project to replace aging fleets of Breguet Atlantic ATL-1s. The Airbus A320 airframe was unchanged other than a weapons bay inserted into the forward cargo hold (with a  360° search radar in front ), weapons pylons behind the wing for torpedoes – there were no wing-mounted pylons – and a chin-mounted E/O (electro-optical imaging sensor) turret.

The MPA320 would also differ from the airliner in having 4 extra belly fuel tanks. Both European nations chose interim solutions with second-hand aircraft in the end and the MPA-R project abandoned. EADS continued developing their concept with the MPA319  based on the smaller A319-CJ bizjet airframe. This  MPA319-CJ  design was entered as a candidate in the Indian MPA contest.[1] The MPA319 follows the pattern of the rival Boeing P-8A with a weapons bay in the rear fuselage and wing pylons.

The MPA319-CJ submitted  to India  was a rather basic airliner conversion with a limited sensor set to suit the local budgets.  However,  India seems to lean towards refurbished Orions [2] to replace its aged Ilyushin IL-38s. That would put an end – temporarily, at least –  to the MPA319. While the MPA319-CJ  has superior range, it was the larger MPA320  (with more room for systems operators) which Canada had earlier expressed interest in.[3]

  EADS  (Airbus)  MPA320  (MPA319-CJ)   —   Specifications
  Dimensions:   span: 31.4m, length: 37.5m (33.8 m), ht: 11.7m
  Powerplant:   2 x 118 kN CFM56-5s or 111 kN IAE V2500
  Performance:   cruise: 830 km/h, ceiling: 11900m (39000 ft)
  Weights:   empty: 42.4 t (40.6 t), MTOW: 77 t (75.5 t)
  Radius/range   ferry 7800km (11500km), radius 1500km (2800km)
  Crew:   2  x  flight crew, systems operators [n/a]
  Armament:   Torpedoes, air-to-surface missiles, bombs [4]

EADS does not seem to be actively marketing either of their  MPA models. And,  having received orders, both the Boeing and Kawasaki  rivals now have the jump on EADS.  Still,  A319/A320 airliners are in production (an advantage over KHI's P-X if not Boeing's 737) and the Airbuses are in widespread Canadian airline service.[5] This would ease A320 maintenance and parts concerns but no more so than the B737/P-8A. EADS would need a minimum order of 20 MPA to start production which is unlikely to result in a tempting price.[6]

[1] The Indian Navy candidates were the MPA319-CJ, P-8A Poseidon, BAE Nimrod (to be produced again for the RAF in small numbers), Dassault Falcon 900 MPA, updated Ilyushin IL-38 and Tupolev Tu-142, and  refurbished Orions ( from either EADS or Lockheed Martin).
[2] The first attempt at getting P-3Cs into Indian service did not end well. Two upgraded US Orions were to be leased but this fell through due to timing (it was to take 18-24 months longer than expected to deliver)  but  this doesn't preclude buying refurbished, ex-USN  Orions.
[3] Along with its smaller, lighter airframe, the MPA319-CJ can have up to six additional centre tanks (as compared with 4 for an MPA320).
[4] Armament mentioned specifically are the Kongsberg NSM anti-ship missile and 4 rear-mounted Eurotorp MU90 lightweight torpedoes.
[5] For example, Air Canada has forty-one each of the A319-100 A320-200 airliners in its fleet (Canadian and Canada 3000 also had A320s).
[6] Canada would be unlikely to replace its 18  CP-140 Auroras on a one-for-one basis so another nation's  involvement would  be needed.