Alenia Aermacchi has successfully completed the maiden test flight of the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) first C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter at its facility at the Turin-Caselle Airport in Italy. Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) chief executive officer Warren King said the test flight represents a major step towards further strengthening of the air force’s airlift capability. Australian Air Force chief air marshal Geoff Brown said the C-27J aircraft will significantly boost the air force’s ability to provide air power to smaller runways in the region that cannot be reached by larger aircraft. Brown said, ”The C-27J is the missing piece in our air lift capability. ”The C-17A Globemaster and C-130J Hercules provide medium and heavy airlift, however, we need a battlefield airlifter to ensure we can land at the locations throughout Australia and our region with smaller runways to provide air power when and where it is needed most.”
Alenia is supplying ten C-27J aircraft to prime contractor L-3 Communications by 2015, as part of a $900m foreign military sales (FMS) programme agreed between Australia and the US in May 2012. Selected after comprehensive assessment, the aircraft is expected to significantly enhance the Australian Defence Forces’ (ADF) ability to move troops, equipment and supplies in absence of DHC-4 Caribou aircraft fleet, which was retired in 2009. Expected to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) in late 2016, the C-27J Spartan capability will be operated by the Number 35 Squadron. Currently undergoing final checks in preparation for customer acceptance tests and procedures, the first aircraft is scheduled to be delivered to L-3 in 2014. Powered by two AE 2100D3 turboshaft engines, the C-27J Spartan is designed to conduct cargo transportation, logistic support of military units, electronic surveillance, firefighting and search-and-rescue (SAR) operations.
Image: The Royal Australian Air Force’s first C-27J Spartan airlifter during its maiden flight in Italy. Photo: © 2012 Alenia Aermacchi – A Finmeccanica Company.