Alenia C-27J Wins Australian Airlift Contest

 - May 11, 2012, 2:03 PM
The C-27J flies over Sydney Harbour during demonstrations to the RAAF, which has now ordered 10. (Photo: Alenia)

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) chose the Alenia C-27J Spartan to replace a fleet of 14 DHC-4 Caribou STOL airlifters that have already been retired. The 10-aircraft deal will be conducted via the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system, with L-3 acting as the prime contractor. Alenia and L-3 formed a partnership to sell the C-27J to the U.S. armed forces. The RAAF also evaluated the EADS CN-295 for the Air 8000 requirement.

The contract is worth about $1 billion, including support equipment and several years of training and logistics support. According to the Pentagon’s notice of potential sale, the aircraft will be equipped with a full U.S.-made electronic warfare suite. The notice added that the C-27Js will also help replace 12 C-130H airlifters that the RAAF plans to retire. The first C-27J will be delivered in 2015, with initial operating capability to follow by the end of 2016.

Alenia said that the aircraft will be new-build, thereby safeguarding the workforce in Italy. There had been speculation that the RAAF would be offered C-27Js being built for, or already flying with, the U.S. Air Force. That service decided last January to withdraw its fleet of C-27Js as a budget-cutting measure, having already received 13 of a planned total of 38. The decision has been challenged in Congress, and might be overturned.