Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi announced orders from Poland for its M-346 advanced jet trainer and from Peru for its C-27J Spartan airlifter in December. Poland becomes the fourth country to select the M-346; Peru is the eleventh customer for the C-27J.
On December 23, Alenia Aermacchi said the Polish Ministry of Defense ordered eight M-346s, flight simulators and training devices in a contract it valued at €280 million ($385 million). The manufacturer expects to sign the contract early this year.
The Polish Air Force will use the twin-engine M-346s as lead-in trainers for its Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds, replacing the service’s 1960s-vintage PZL-Mielec TS-11 Iskra jet trainers. BAE Systems competed for the requirement with its Hawk advanced jet trainer, and Lockheed Martin with the T-50.
The M-346 resumed flying in late August after being grounded for about three months in the wake of the May 11 crash of a pre-series aircraft in Italy. The air forces of Italy, Singapore and Israel have thus far ordered 48 M-346s, according to Alenia Aermacchi. The manufacturer, part of the Finmeccanica group, has partnered with General Dynamics to offer the M-346 for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X jet trainer replacement program for 350 aircraft.
On December 18, Alenia Aermacchi said it signed a contract with Peru’s Ministry of Defense to supply two C-27Js, logistics support, technical assistance, training “and a set of special equipment” the customer ordered in a contract it valued at €100 million ($137 million). In addition to Peru, the air forces of Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, Morocco, Mexico, the U.S., Australia and an undisclosed African country have ordered 76 aircraft, Alenia Aermacchi said.
As a cost-cutting measure, the U.S. Air Force planned to relegate the 21 C-27Js it has ordered to the aircraft “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. However, seven of the twin-engine turboprops will be transferred to the Special Operations Command, and the U.S. Coast Guard and Forest Service have also expressed interest in the aircraft, Defense News has reported. The Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act the U.S. Congress passed in December directs that no funds shall be used to acquire C-27Js that were not on contract as of last June.
The first C-27J destined for Australia made its first flight at Turin-Caselle Airport in Italy on December 19. The manufacturer said it is on schedule to deliver the aircraft to prime contractor L-3 Communications this year. L-3 is supplying the C-27J to the Royal Australian Air Force as part of a U.S. foreign military sale. Alenia Aermacchi is under contract to deliver 10 C-27Js to L-3 by next year.