Greece has opted to join two European Defence Agency (EDA) airlift programmes starting in March 2024: the C27J co-operation ecosystem and the Multilateral Air Transport Training and Exercises (MATTE) initiative.

Launched in 2020, the C-27J programme serves as a platform harmonisation ecosystem embodied by six nations that operate the transport aircraft – including Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and now Greece. These operators pool their equipment and training resources as part of an optimised logistics solution, with the aim of increasing the platform’s availability.

The admission of the Hellenic Air Force was formalised through a ‘Statement of Accession’ signed by the Minister of National Defence, Nikos Dendias, marking the country’s commitment to the co-operative endeavour. According to GlobalData intelligence, the Air Force operates 12 units.

Europe’s Spartan Exercise 2024, which marks the first participation of a Hellenic Air Force aircraft, will take place in Romania from 30 September to 11 October 2024.

Entering service for the first time in 1997, the C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft incorporates the same propulsion system and advanced avionics as the C-130J Hercules Transporter. It was originally developed by Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems – a joint venture company based in Marietta, Georgia, which was set up by the US prime,  Lockheed Martin, and Alenia Aeronautica, now the European defence prime, Leonardo.

Without modification, Humvees, AML-90s, Perentie 6×6 armoured vehicles, M113 armoured personnel carriers 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.

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Although, it should be noted that this common platform ecosystem has anticipated some supply chain setbacks in recent weeks. In early February, the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence expressed its concern that its supplier, Leonardo, would fail to deliver C-27 spares on time. This prompted the Baltic nation to request Italy to deliver spares instead.

Meanwhile, Greece has also joined another EDA-led programme, the Technical Arrangement (TA) for MATTE – an initiative launched in May 2018, which aims to streamline and enhance training and exercise opportunities among EDA’s Member States.

This common TA stemmed from the recognition of the cumbersome process involved in drafting individual agreements for each training and exercise event.

Since its inception, MATTE has garnered significant support, with 19 EU member states already on-board: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and now Greece.

Greece’s accession to the common TA as its 19th member, was signed by Dendias, confirming the country’s active participation. This initiative represents a milestone in fostering training, exercises, and interoperability across Europe.