Leonardo has entered a memorandum of understanding with Northrop Grumman Australia to offer the C-27J Spartan tactical airlifter to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).
The partnership covers C-27J through life support services in New Zealand.
Under the agreement, the companies will partner on a bid for the incoming future air mobility capability (FAMC) programme of the RNZAF to offer the Leonardo-built C-27J as a replacement for the country’s ageing C-130H fleet.
Through the partnership, Leonardo aims to bring a whole-of-life sustainment approach to the C-27J.
Both companies will prepare a roadmap for future modernisation and upgrades using reach-back and sovereign capabilities.
Leonardo intends to leverage the existing partnership with Northrop Grumman Australia for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Spartan fleet.
According to the Italian firm, the RNZAF can use the C-27J to perform a wide range of airlift missions in adverse environmental conditions, including humanitarian aid, disaster relief, transport, and search and rescue.
Leonardo Aircraft Marketing and Sales director Maurizio De Mitri said: “With this partnership, we want to make Australia our hub for the C-27J in the region to provide New Zealand with true excellence not only in terms of product but also in terms of services, to ensure decades of efficient transport and relief operations.
“The successful experience of the RAAF fleet is a testament to our commitment and we are convinced that New Zealand would receive significant advantages by becoming the next Spartan customer.”
Northrop’s team provides logistics, engineering, modernisation and upgrade capabilities to provide analytical solutions for the C-27J platform to ensure mission readiness as part of through life support (TLS) awarded in November 2017.
Designed to operate from short austere airstrips, the aircraft can conduct autonomous operations from remote areas.
Apart from the RAAF, the C-27J is in service with the US Army, US Coast Guard and Italian Air Force.