The Romanian air force took delivery of its first Alenia C-27J Spartan at Bucharest-Otopeni air base. Seven Spartans are on order to replace the last of Romania’s Communist-era transports and to bolster the transport fleet’s ability to support international operations. The last aircraft is due in 2012. Romania initially chose the C-27J over the EADS-CASA C.295M in November 2006, but negotiations with Alenia were suspended three months later, following a complaint by EADS-CASA. The latter argued that their bid was lower, in a competition that specified cost to be the main criterion for selection. Romania’s public procurement controlling authority upheld the complaint, but it was subsequently overturned by the court of appeals, eventually leading to a €217 million ($308 million) contract signature in December 2007. However, the deal remained a source of controversy, with several parties alleging that Alenia had misrepresented its costs, and that the technical requirements had been drawn up to favor the C-27J.
Romania’s transport fleet is operated by the 90th Air Base at Otopeni, from where the C-27Js will be operated by the 902nd Transport and Reconnaissance Squadron. Currently, the 902nd squadron has four Antonov An-26s on strength, which are becoming increasingly difficult and costly to maintain. The last of the squadron’s An-24s were retired in 2007. The unit also operates Romania’s sole An-30 “Clank” Open Skies photo-survey platform. Whether this aircraft will remain in service has not been announced. The Spartans will operate alongside the 901st squadron’s single Lockheed Martin C-130H and four C-130Bs, which are to be upgraded.