The Australian Government has signed a Commonwealth avionics upgrade (CAU) acquisition contract with Leonardo to support the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) C-27J Spartan fleet.

The estimated value of this CAU contract is approximately $45.05m (A$70m).

Under the new agreement, the company will replace and upgrade the radio capability currently integrated with the RAAF’s C-27J Spartan light tactical aircraft fleet.

The contract also involves enhancing the entire safety and suitability of the aircraft.

Work associated with the latest contract is scheduled to commence in September 2023. It is expected to complete by 2026.

The company will carry out the related work at RAAF Base Amberley.

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Australian Department of Defence (DoD) Aerospace Systems Division head air vice-marshal Leon Phillips said: “Operated by No 35 Squadron, the C-27J Spartan fleet provides essential transportation and aerial delivery of passengers, troops and cargo, support to search and rescue missions, and aeromedical evacuation in our region.

“Upgrading cryptographic radio function of C-27J platform will ensure ongoing availability of secure communications, including interoperability with key strategic partners and intelligence networks, and increased overall safety for our Australian Defence Force personnel.”

Leonardo has been selected as Spartan’s original manufacturer and the prime contractor for this award.

According to the DoD, the selection was based on the company’s experience and specialist knowledge to perform the major upgrades and modifications on the Spartan aircraft.

Simultaneously, the C-27J aircraft will continue to receive its routine maintenance and modifications from the No 35 Squadron’s personnel and a Northrop Grumman team.

The contract for providing regular maintenance and support for the C-27J Spartan airlifter fleet was awarded to Northrop Grumman in November 2017.