Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel are set to start flight training on the new C-27 J Spartan battlefield airlift aircraft.
Australian Defence Minister Parliamentary Secretary Darren Chester said the airborne training will start in Texas, US, over the coming weeks.
He said: "These pilots and loadmasters will go on to become our first qualified C-27J crew members."
The Australian Government ordered ten C-27J aircraft along with contractor logistics support, spares and training from L-3 Communications under a $900m foreign military sales deal in May 2012.
The aircraft are supplied by Alenia Aermacchi. They are expected to 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.
Chester said the aircraft will make a significant contribution to tactical airlift in Australia and around the Asia Pacific region.
He said: "It can land at more airfields and provide disaster relief support in a range of environments."
Apart from complementing the capabilities of the RAAF’s existing C-130J and C-17A airlifters, the aircraft uses common C-130 infrastructure and aircraft systems such as engines, avionics, and cargo handling systems.
The C-27J Spartan is powered by two AE 2100D3 turboshaft engines. It is designed to conduct cargo transportation, logistic support of military units, electronic surveillance, firefighting and search-and-rescue operations.
In addition to the RAAF, the aircraft has been ordered by the air forces of Australia, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Peru, as well as Romania, Morocco, Mexico Slovakia, the US, and an undisclosed African country.
The RAAF’s first aircraft conducted its initial flight test in December 2013, and is scheduled to be delivered in the middle of 2015.
Image: The Royal Australian Air Force’s first C-27J Spartan during its maiden flight in Italy. Photo: courtesy of © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.