FARNBOROUGH, England — Airbus and Turkey's Roketsan have signed to arm Airbus' C-295 aircraft with laser-guided missiles and bombs, part of Airbus' drive to give the widely sold transport plane new roles.

The two firms signed a memorandum of understanding at the Farnborough International Airshow on Wednesday to team on the design, integration and testing of Roketsan weapons, including the 70mm laser-guided Cirit missile and the long-range, laser-guided L-UMTAS anti-tank missile, as well as the Teber laser-guided bomb.

"There is a clear opportunity for us to address the global requirement for a cost-effective, armed utility aircraft, and Roketsan's product range and proven expertise make them the obvious partner," said Airbus' head of military aircraft, Fernando Alonso.

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The move forms part of Airbus' expansion program for the C-295, which is already used as a maritime patrol aircraft by four customers.

The next step is to introduce an electronic intelligence and communications intelligence version, as well as an aircraft with early-warning capabilities, said Fernando Ciria, Airbus' head of marketing for tactical airlifters and ISR.

Also on the list is a ground surveillance version for border control missions, with a radar offering ground moving target indicator and synthetic aperture radar functions yet to be selected, said Ciria.

"Some customers are also interested in strike capabilities," he said, adding that pylons now fitted for torpedoes on the maritime patrol versions would be used for the Roketsan munitions, with target designators also added.

To date, Airbus C-235 aircraft obtained from the Spanish Air Force have been turned into gunships by ATK for use by Jordan.

As further evidence of its move to extend the use of the C-295, Airbus used the air show to show off an aircraft rigged to provide in-flight refueling to other slow-moving aircraft or helicopters.

The roll-on, roll-off system contains 90 feet of tubing and a refueling basket, which can be extended from the open ramp at the rear of the aircraft, with the capacity to provide 6 tons of fuel, said Ciria.

Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.

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