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C-27 Spartan at RAF Fairford 2007
Planes and Choppers
No: 3113   Contributor: Marcel Sloover   Year: 2007   Manufacturer: Alenia   Country: United Kingdom
C-27 Spartan at RAF Fairford 2007

In 1997, Alenia and Lockheed Martin formed Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems (LMATTS) for the development of an advanced version of the G.222 with advanced avionics, a glass cockpit and new engines, the same Rolls-Royce AE 2100s that power the C-130J Hercules. Lockheed Martin and Alenia later dissolved the LMATTS joint venture because Lockheed Martin decided 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.[1] Alenia Aeronautica then paired with L-3 Communications to form the Global Military Aircraft Systems (GMAS) joint venture to market the C-27J.[2] Boeing Integrated Defense Systems later joined Alenia and L-3 Communications as a GMAS team member.[3]

The C-27J has a 35% increase in range and a 30% increase in service ceiling over the original G.222. The Italian Air Force and the Hellenic Air Force have ordered twelve aircraft each, and the Bulgarian Air Force has selected C-27J for a requirement of eight. Alenia is offering Canada the C-27J as a CC-130 Hercules and CC-115 Buffalo replacement. Lithuania ordered three C-27J as Antonov An-26 replacement. First plane was delivered at the end of 2006.

The GMAS team promoted the C-27J in the U.S. Army and Air Force's 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.[4][5]

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.[6] While the final selection of the JCA was expected to be announced in March 2007, the decision came on June 13, 2007, when the Pentagon selected the C-27J as its Joint Cargo Aircraft.[5] 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 June 13, 2007.[7]

On June 22, 2007, Raytheon formally protested the award of the JCA contract to the Alenia C-27J. The basis of Raytheon's protest is the company's contention that their C-295 aircraft is less expensive to acquire and support.[8] Prior to Raytheon's protest, the first C-27J aircraft were to begin delivery to the joint U.S. Army-Air Force test and training program in June 2008.[9]

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 $3-billion CDN as of January 2007.[10]

Romania ordered seven C-27Js for delivery from 2008 to replace Antonov An-24 and An-26 aircraft, beating the EADS CASA C-295[11] However, the order was blocked by the government in February 2007 upon a legal challenge filed by EADS.[12]. In June 2007, the order was confirmed again when the Romanian court rejected EADS' complaint.[13].

The C-27J is a probable contender for a Royal Australian Air Force requirement for 12 aircraft to replace its aging DHC-4 Caribou by 2010, and possibly more if the RAAF decides not to replace all its C-130H Hercules transports.[14]
Picture added on 05 August 2007
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RAF Fairford Riat 2007, United Kingdom
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