C-27J Spartan

C-27J Spartan

Launched in 1997, the C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft incorporates the same propulsion system and advanced avionics as the C-130J Hercules Transporter.

The C-27J has been developed by Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems (LMATTS). LMATTS is a joint venture company based in Marietta, Georgia, which was set up by Lockheed Martin and Alenia Aeronautica, which is part of the Finmeccanica company of Italy.

In July 2012, Alenia rolled out a new multi-mission variant designated MC-27J. Derived from C-27J Spartan, the MC-27J is an armed aircraft specially designed to meet the requirements of air forces and Special Forces. The aircraft is being jointly manufactured by Alenia and ATK.

“The C-27J Spartan is a tactical transport aircraft.”

US Army / US Air Force C-27J joint cargo aircraft (JCA)

In June 2007, the C-27J was chosen as the US Army / Air Force new joint cargo aircraft (JCA). The initial contract is for 78 aircraft (54 for the army and 24 for the USAF). L-3 Communications Integrated is prime contractor and is teamed with Alenia North America, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems and Global Military Aircraft Systems (a joint venture of L-3 and Alenia). The C-27J JCA’s maiden flight was in June 2008 and the first aircraft was delivered to the US Army and Air Force in September 2008. The first JCA training class began in November 2008.

Finmeccanica received a $319m contract from the USAF in June 2010 to supply eight C-27J JCA for delivery in 2012.

The US Special Operations Command will receive seven C-27Js from the USAF, as part of intra-service transfer. All the aircraft are expected to be transferred by April 2014 and will be operated by the US Army Special Operations Command. The USAF will also transfer 14 C-27Js to the US Coast Guard.

C-27J Spartan design and construction

The aircraft design is based on the proven G-222 airframe from Alenia, with turboprop engines from Allison and advanced systems from Lockheed Martin.

Final assembly of the C-27J Spartan takes place in Italy. Lockheed Martin is responsible for the propulsion and avionics and takes lead responsibility for product support and worldwide marketing. Alenia Aeronautica takes responsibility for the certification process and for most of the manufacturing and flight testing operations.

The C-27J Spartan has the same logistical and maintenance characteristics of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules medium tactical airlifter, and also shares commonality of the cargo capacity. The primary roles of the C-27J are cargo transport, troop transport, and material and paratroop air drop. Other missions include maritime patrol, tactical operations, medical evacuation, ground refuelling, fire-fighting and aerial spraying.

“Final C-27J assembly takes place in Italy.”

Global Military Aircraft Systems (GMAS) is a joint venture that has been set up between Alenia and L-3 Communications for the US Army future cargo aircraft (FCA) and the USAF combat rescue tanker requirement.

Cockpit

The two-pilot cockpit is night-vision-goggle (NVG) compatible. The flight deck is very similar to that of the C-130J Hercules. The electronic flight instrumentation system (EFIS) incorporates five liquid crystal head-down colour displays.

C27J Spartan cargo systems

The Spartan is constructed with a floor strength equal to that of a Hercules transporter, and the large cargo cabin cross-section is able to accommodate Hercules pallets.

Without modification, HMMWV (high-mobility medium wheeled vehicle), AML-90, Perentie 6×6 armoured vehicle, M113 armoured personnel carrier or similar military vehicles can be driven on and off the Spartan via a hydraulically operated rear-loading ramp. The aircraft is constructed to offload vehicles quickly while taking fire.

“C-27J missions include maritime patrol, tactical operations, medical evacuation, ground refuelling, fire-fighting and aerial spraying.”

An upward-opening door is installed in the underside rear fuselage, which is used for air drops of pallets or CDS (container delivery systems) units. The air-drop speed is typically in the range 110kt to 140kt.

The aircraft is pressurised and air conditioned in the cockpit and cargo compartment. In the medical evacuation role, the aircraft can carry 24 casualties on litters (stretchers) and four medical attendants. The cargo compartment is equipped with a dedicated aero-medical oxygen supply and 12 power centres for medical or auxiliary equipment.

For the paratroop role, the aircraft is equipped with door-jump platforms and static lines, and can carry up to 24 fully equipped paratroops. Paratroop jumps can be carried out from the paratroop doors on both sides of the cargo compartment or from the cargo ramp and rear door.

Avionics

The C-27J is equipped with a digital avionics suite integrated by Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems. The mission computers are supplied by Sanders, a Lockheed Martin company, and the displays by ADC. Honeywell provides the autopilot and the standby instruments are supplied by BF Goodrich.

Engines

The C-27J is equipped with two AE 2100D3 turboshaft engines, supplied by Rolls-Royce Defence North America (formerly Allison). The engines are rated at 4,637shp. Messier-Dowty supply the six-bladed composite propellers.

“The C-27J has a floor strength equal to that of a Hercules transporter.”

The aircraft’s propulsion system allows the C-27J Spartan to access a wide range of airfields, including short, unprepared strips in hot-and-high altitude conditions while transporting heavy loads.

The Spartan can perform 3g tactical airlift operations under severe conditions. The navigation and night piloting systems allow the aircraft to fly just above tree height even at night.

The propulsion system provides an increase in aircraft range by 35% and cruise ceiling by 30%, in comparison to the current G-222 tactical transporter configuration from Alenia.

Performance

The C-27J can fly with a maximum speed of 602km/h. The maximum cruise and stall speed of the aircraft are 583km/h and 194km/h respectively. Its range is 1,852km. The ferry range and service ceiling are 5,926km and 9,144m respectively.

C-27J transporter orders and deliveries

The first flight of the development aircraft was in September 1999 and the aircraft received full Italian military type certification in December 2001. The Italian Air Force ordered 12 aircraft to replace the G.222. Deliveries began in January 2007 and were completed in May 2009.

In January 2003, LMATTS received the first export order for the C-27J when Greece signed a $272.72m contract to buy 12 aircraft with three on option. The first was delivered in August 2005.

In February 2006, the Defence Ministry of Bulgaria signed a contract for five C-27J aircraft, with an option for three more. Deliveries began in November 2007. Two C-27J Spartans were delivered to the Bulgarian Air Force by December 2010. Bulgaria reduced the C-27J orders from five to three due to financial crisis. The Bulgarian Air Force received the third and final C-27J Spartan aircraft in March 2011. These aircraft replaced the existing An-26s fleet.

In June 2006, Lithuania placed a €75m ($97.5m) order for three C-27J aircraft. The first was delivered in December 2006, the second in December 2008 and the third was delivered on 21 October 2009.

In December 2006, it was announced that Romania had selected the C-27J with a requirement for seven aircraft. A €217m ($308m) contract was signed in December 2007 after facing legal appeals from Romania’s public procurement controlling authority. The first C-27J Spartan was delivered to the Romanian Airforce in July 2009 to the Bucharest-Otopeni Air Base. The second was delivered in April 2010 with the remaining five delivered by 2012.

In December 2008, the Slovakian government announced the selection of the C-27J with a requirement for up to four aircraft.

Ten C-27J Spartans had been delivered to the Hellenic Air Force by July 2010.

In November 2010, the first C-27J full flight simulator was delivered to the Italian Air Force at its base in Pisa, Italy. The simulator is principally used for training the C-27J crews at a competitive operating cost.

Mexico placed a $200m contract for four C-27J aircraft in July 2011. The first aircraft was delivered in September 2011 and the remaining three were delivered by 2012.

In May 2012, Australia confirmed the acquisition of 10 C-27J Spartan aircraft for its Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) through a €800m Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement with the US. The first aircraft completed maiden flight in December 2013. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2015 and the initial operating capability is expected by the end of 2016.

The Peruvian Ministry of Defense selected the C-27J in November 2013 and placed a contract worth €100m ($135.8m) for two aircraft in December 2013.

Variants

AC-27J Stinger II

The AC-27J was a proposed gunship for the U.S. Air Force. In 2008, US$32 million was reallocated to purchase a C-27J for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, to fulfill requirements defined by AFSOC for the AC-XX concept, a replacement for the aging and heavily used Lockheed AC-130s. The AC-27J was to be equipped using proven hardware and systems to reduce risk. AFSOC planned to acquire 16 aircraft, the first gunship in 2011 and two more per year from 2012 to 2015.

The AC-27J was to serve as a multi-mission platform, equipped with full-motion cameras and outfitted to support covert infiltration and other missions by ground forces, armed with either a 30-millimeter or 40-millimeter gun or precision-guided munitions such as the Viper Strike bomb. At the Air Force Association’s 2008 conference, it was reported that the AC-27J would be named “Stinger II” after the AC-119K Stinger.

C-27A 90-0170 was removed from storage at AMARC in October 2008 and delivered to Eglin AFB, Florida, for use by the Air Force Research Laboratory to test the feasibility of mounting of 30 mm and 40 mm guns. In May 2009, the program was put on hold because U.S. Army funding for 40 C-27s in an Army–Air Force cooperative purchase was removed from the fiscal 2010 budget. U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command elected to standardize their fleet with the C-130 to meet its gunship needs.

MC-27J

The MC-27J is a development of the C-27J for multi-mission purposes, including Command and Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C3-ISR), Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) and Combat Support operations, thanks to roll-off/roll-on systems and different sensors and equipment: AESA Search Radar; Elettro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) system; Electronic Support Measures (ESM); palletized Mission System; enhanced Communications System including datalink and SATCOM capabilities; Store Management System to employ Precision Guided Munitions (PGM – one hard point under each wing); palletized fire support system with a high accurate gun able to fire through the LH rear door, that can be installed and rapidly uninstalled when not required. The MC-27J can support Special Operations Forces and ground troops with direct fire also performing armed ISR, Close Air Support (CAS) and Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR). It features systems to carry out intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions, as well as a defensive aids suite. In July 2012, Alenia Aermacchi announced its intention to offer an upgrade program for existing C-27Js to the MC-27J configuration in the future. The MC-27J is being developed as an Alenia Aermacchi-Orbital private venture.

The Italian Air Force will convert three C-27Js into MC-27Js in 2016. On 25 March 2014, the first MC-27J, named Praetorian in the configuration tailored for Italian Air Force, performed its maiden flight. In July 2014, the MC-27J had reportedly successfully completed the first phase of ground and flight testing with the Italian Air Force. In October 2020, the annual Documento Programmatico Pluriennale (DPP) 2020-2022 of Italian Minister of Defence indicates realization of MC-27J Praetorian aircraft to support special operations.

EC-27 “Jedi”

In 2010, the Italian Air Force announced the development of an electronic warfare package for its C-27 fleet under the jamming and electronic defence instrumentation (Jedi) program. One publicised ability of the aircraft is the disruption of radio communications and, in particular, remote detonators commonly used on improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The EC-27 has been compared to the capabilities of the USAF’s Lockheed EC-130H Compass Call. In 2015, it was revealed that an improved Jedi 2 payload was under development to provide increased electronic warfare capabilities.

Specifications

Crew Minimum two: pilot, co-pilot (plus loadmaster when needed)
Capacity 60 troops or 46 paratroops or 36 litters with 6 medical personnel
Payload 11,600 kg (25,600 lb) at MTOW
Length 22.7 m (74 ft 6 in)
Wingspan 28.7 m (94 ft 2 in)
Height 9.64 m (31 ft 8 in)
Wing area 82 m2 (880 sq ft)
Empty weight 27,500 kg (60,627 lb)
Max take off weight 31,800 kg (70,107 lb)
Power plant 2 × Rolls-Royce AE2100-D2A turboprop, 3,458 kW (4,637 hp) each
Maximum speed 602 km/h (374 mph, 325 kn)
Cruise speed 583 km/h (362 mph, 315 kn)
Combat radius 1,759 km (1,093 mi, 950 nmi) with MTOW of 31,800 kg (70,100 lb)
Ferry range 5,852 km (3,636 mi, 3,160 nmi)
Service ceiling 9,144 m (30,000 ft)
Rate of climb 1,830 ft/min (9.3 m/s)
Thrust/weight

Operators

  • Royal Australian Air Force – Ordered ten C-27J aircraft with deliveries beginning in late 2014. These aircraft are operated by No. 35 Squadron. First 4 reached initial operating capability on 16 December 2016. The last aircraft was delivered in April 2018.
  • Bulgarian Air Force – 3 C-27J aircraft in service as of January 2012 with the 1/16 Transport Squadron Vrazhdebna Air Base.
  • Chadian Air Force – Ordered two C-27J aircraft; these aircraft were received in 2013 and 2014.
  • Hellenic Air Force – 8 C-27J aircraft in use as of January 2012 with the 354th TTS “Pegasus” (112th Combat Wing – Air Force Support Command).
  • Italian Air Force – 12 aircraft in operation as of January 2012 with 98th Gruppo/46th Air Brigade.
  • Kenya Air Force – Ordered three between November 2017 and March 2018 Two were delivered on 30 January 2019. and last one on 1 October 2020.
  • Lithuanian Air Force -3 C-27Js in service as of January 2012.
  • Royal Moroccan Air Force – 4 aircraft in use as of January 2012 with 3rd Air Force Base (3rd BAFRA).
  • Mexican Air Force – 4 C-27J in service as of January 2012 with 302 Air Squadron.
  • Peruvian Air Force – 4 C-27Js in service with Grupo Aéreo N°8.
  • Romanian Air Force – 7 C-27Js in service as of January 2015, operated by 902nd Transport and Reconnaissance Squadron of the 90th Airlift Flotilla.
  • Slovak Air Force – 2 C-27J aircraft. Aircraft deliveries to the Slovak Air Force began on 31 October 2017 with the first aircraft, and the second and final aircraft on 9 April 2018.
  • Zambia Air Force – Ordered two C-27J aircraft. Both aircraft delivered during summer 2019.
  • United States Coast Guard – Received 14 former USAF C-27Js, to convert to HC-27J configuration.
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