Singapore Air Show

C-27J Highlights A New Way To Look At Airlift

 - February 12, 2014, 11:00 PM

A recent order for two Alenia C-27J Spartans by Peru has highlighted a new way to assess the merits of airlifters, which the company labels as “transport productivity.” Rather than use traditional methods of assessing operating costs, such as cost per flying hour, it is better to evaluate the transport cost per ton/mile, asserted Giovanni Timossi, Alenia’s v-p international sales for Asia and Oceania.

Alenia sees this as a powerful tool in the “battle of the airlifters” with Airbus Defence and Space’s C295 transport. According to Timossi, the C-27J’s 24 percent greater load and 23 percent greater speed allow it to complete typical transport tasks with a saving in actual flying hours of up to 60 percent, not only reducing direct operating costs, but also maintenance requirements. Timossi also stressed the C-27J’s 8100-kg payload capability when operating at tactical 3g limits.

Those figures have seen the C-27J win its fair share of the light airlifter orders, which stand at 76 to date with 56 delivered. Alenia is now building the first of 10 aircraft for Australia, which are due for delivery from next year. Australia’s buy is a U.S. government FMS deal, with L-3 as the prime contractor. An initial three-year contractor logistics support package is included, but Alenia is hoping to compete directly for an ongoing through-life support contract after the CLS phase is concluded. The company has opened an office in Canberra and is seeking a local partner.

From this year the C-27J is being offered in two distinct export versions. The baseline aircraft is known as the “light” option, while the “full” export version has defensive aids and satcoms. While there are currently no official tenders for light airlifters in the region, the C-27J has received much interest, notably in Thailand.

Alenia is presenting the aircraft to navies as well as air forces, highlighting the aircraft’s multi-mission capability. As well as the much-publicized MC-27J roll-on/roll-off gunship version, the Spartan can be roled for maritime patrol duties and as an electronic warfare platform. The U.S. Coast Guard is receiving 14 C-27Js transferred from the Air Force, and will use them in the medium-patrol mission. Meanwhile, the Italian air force has been using two YEC-27Js in Afghanistan since 2012 as ISR and counter-IED jamming platforms using the Italian JEDI equipment.

In India the Spartan is a contender for the air force’s Avro replacement requirement. While Alenia’s parent company Finmeccanica awaits the outcome of court hearings concerning the AgustaWestland affair, Alenia continues to work towards answering the RFP. “For us it’s business as usual,” said Timossi. “We are working with our partners to submit our proposal.” That proposal is due next month, at which time Alenia will name the local partner it has selected to support its bid.

Singapore M-346 deliveries almost complete

Next month Alenia Aermacchi is scheduled to hand over the last two of 12 M-346s to the Republic of Singapore Air Force. The aircraft were ordered in late 2010 as part of a training package with ST Aerospace as prime contractor. The M-346s are based in France at the Cazaux air base near Bordeaux, from where the RSAF conducts advanced training. Operations got under way last February, and the first trainee took to the air in March to inaugurate the RSAF’s third-generation integrated pilot training system.