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The Alenia C-27J Spartan is a medium-sized military transport aircraft. The C-27J is an advanced derivative of Alenia Aeronautica's G.222 (C-27A Spartan in US service), with the engines and systems of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules. The aircraft was selected as the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) for the United States military.
Design and development
In 1995, Alenia and Lockheed Martin began discussions to improve Alenia's G.222 using C-130J's glass cockpit with a more powerful version of the G.222's T64G engine and four-blade propellers. The companies began a program for the improved G.222, named C-27J in 1996. This was a US military type designation based on the G.222's C-27A US designation. At this point the design included the C-130J Super Hercules's Rolls-Royce AE 2100 engine and six-blade propeller. Alenia and Lockheed Martin formed ''Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems'' (LMATTS) for the development of C-27J in 1997.
[Frawley, Gerald. "LMATTS C-27J Spartan". ''The International Directory of Military Aircraft, 2002/2003''. Aerospace Publications, 2002. ISBN 1-875671-55-2.] The LMATTS joint venture was later dissolved when Lockheed Martin chose to offer the C-130J as a contender in the same U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) competition in which the C-27J was competing. Alenia Aeronautica then paired with L-3 Communications to form the Global Military Aircraft Systems (GMAS) joint venture to market the C-27J. Boeing Integrated Defense Systems later joined Alenia and L-3 Communications as a GMAS team member.
The C-27J has a 35% increase in range and a 15% faster cruise speed than the G.222.
The Italian Air Force, Hellenic Air Force, Bulgarian Air Force, Romanian Air Force, United States Army and the United States Air Force have ordered the C-27J. Alenia is offering Canada the C-27J as a CC-115 Buffalo replacement. Lithuania ordered the C-27J as an Antonov An-26 replacement.
The GMAS team bid the C-27J in the Joint Cargo Aircraft competition against Raytheon and EADS North America's C-295. Both the U.S. Army and Air Force JCA orders combined are expected to top 100 aircraft. The JCA will eventually replace the existing C-23 Sherpa, C-12 Huron and C-26 Metroliners in the Army National Guard, and will become a substitute tactical airlift platform for those Air National Guard airlift groups or airlift wings losing C-130E/H/J aircraft to retirement (C-130E) or Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action redistribution of aircraft (C-130H/C-130J).
The C-27J had completed the U.S. Department of Defense's Early User Survey evaluations by November 2006, flying 26 hours and surpassing all the JCA program requirements. The GMAS team also announced that the C-27J will be assembled at a facility at Cecil Field, Duval County, Florida. While the final selection of the JCA was expected to be announced in March 2007, the decision came on 13 June 2007, when the Pentagon selected the C-27J as its Joint Cargo Aircraft.
A contract worth US$2.04 billion was awarded to the L-3 Communications team for 78 C-27Js along with training and support on 13 June 2007. [[http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123057181 C-27J Spartan named as Joint Cargo Aircraft]]
On 22 June 2007, Raytheon formally protested the award of the JCA contract to the Alenia C-27J. On 27 September 2007, the GAO announced that it had denied Raytheon’s protest, thereby allowing the Pentagon to go ahead with the C-27J procurement. Prior to Raytheon's protest, the first C-27J aircraft were to begin delivery to the joint US Army-Air Force test and training program in June 2008. The first flight of a US C-27J occurred on 17 June 2008.
The C-27J was being considered as a sole-source contract by the Government of Canada as a future replacement for its current search and rescue airfleet, the contract being worth approximately C$3 billion as of January 2007.
Romania ordered seven C-27Js for delivery from 2008 to replace Antonov An-24 and An-26 aircraft, beating the EADS CASA C-295. However, the order was blocked by the government in February 2007 upon a legal challenge filed by EADS.. In June 2007, the order was confirmed again when the Romanian court rejected EADS' complaint. The Romanian government officially signed a contract for the delivery of seven C-27Js on 7 December 2007.
The C-27J is a probable contender for a Royal Australian Air Force requirement for light airlifer to replace its recently retired DHC-4 Caribou.
Currently orders stand at Italy (12), Greece (12 + 3 options), Bulgaria (5), Lithuania (3), Morocco (4), Romania (7), and United States (78).
[[http://www.alenia-aeronautica.it/store/news/new150_1.pdf "Alenia Aeronautica delivers the first C-27J to the Bulgarian Air Force"], Alenia Aeronautica, 13 November 2007.]
The US Air Force is shifting US$32 million from the Pentagon's 2008 budget to purchase a C-27J for the Air Force Special Operations Command. The AC-27J will be equipped using proven hardware and systems to reduce risk.
[Schanz, Marc V. [http://www.airforce-magazine.com/Features/modernization/Pages/FillingtheGunshipGap.aspx "Filling the Gunship Gap"], Air Force magazine, 18 August 2008.]
Italy received its first C-27J in October 2006. The Italian Air Force deployed two C-27Js to Afghanistan from 12 September 2008 to 27 January 2009 in support NATO airlift operations.
On 13 November 2007, the first C-27J was delivered to the Bulgarian Air Force.
The United States received its first C-27J on 25 September 2008. In September 2008 the C-27J Schoolhouse, operated by L-3 Link, officially began classes at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. It has been proposed, in May 2009, that the US Army/Army National Guard lose all of their aircraft to the US Air Force, primarily the Air National Guard, and the total buy reduced in half to 38 aircraft.
[Tiron, Roxana [http://thehill.com/business--lobby/lawmakers-press-gates-to-keep-army-cargo-plane-2009-05-04.html "Lawmakers press Gates to keep program"]] As of April 2009, the Army had accepted deliveries of two aircraft and had 11 more on order. [Trimble, Stephen [http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2009/04/22/325438/us-army-orders-seven-more-c-27j-transports.html "Army orders for the C27J"] ]
The Canadian Forces Air Command has identified the C-27J as one of two candidates to replace the de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo and would be purchasing 15 aircraft.
It was announced on 21 August 2009 that Taiwan had entered price negotiotians with Alenia Aeronautica for the sale of six C-27J Spartan aircraft. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Ghana of four C-27Js on 9 September 2009.
World operators of the C-27J Spartan
* Bulgarian Air Force: 5 aircraft ordered through 2011, 3 received.
* Hellenic Air Force: 12 aircraft ordered, 8 received.
* Italian Air Force: 12 aircraft on order, full optional (Digital Map, HUD, Aerial Refueling Probes), 12 received.
* Lithuanian Air Force: 3 aircraft received as of October 2009.
* Royal Moroccan Air Force: 4 aircraft on order.
* Romanian Air Force: 7 aircraft ordered with 1 operational as of August 2009, and another 6 are scheduled to arrive from 2010 through 2012.
* Slovak Air Force has ordered a minimum of 2 aircraft.
* United States Army: requirement for up to 75 aircraft in the Army National Guard.
The first aircraft was received in September 2008.
* United States Air Force: requirement for up to 70 aircraft in the Air Force Special Operations Command and the Air National Guard.