The Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) C-27J Spartan aircraft fleet has achieved initial operational capability (IOC), Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne has declared.
According to Payne, the IOC has been approved for ten Spartans that will increase the RAAF's ability to move people, equipment and supplies in Australia.
Payne said: “The Spartan can access airfields that are unable to support larger transport aircraft, thus increasing the reach for defence when supporting communities across Australia and throughout the Asia Pacific region.
“The Spartan can now be tasked on missions to transport 40 passengers or three military pallets of cargo, as well as fulfil roles such as light equipment airdrop.”
Built by Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems (LMATTS), the C-27Js are being procured as part of a $1.6bn investment to replace the existing fleet of DHC-4 Caribou.
Air Marshal Davies said that the aircraft will 'increase the mobility and flexibility for local commanders, allowing intra-theatre airlift that will bridge C-130J Hercules and CH-47 Chinook options'.
To date, four of Australia’s ten Spartans have arrived in Australia, where they are operated by Number 35 Squadron from RAAF Base Richmond.
Upon completion of construction of dedicated facilities at RAAF Base Amberley, Number 35 Squadron will relocate in 2019.
The C-27J is equipped with a digital avionics suite integrated by Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems.
The mission computers are supplied by Sanders, a Lockheed Martin company, and the displays are provided by ADC.
Honeywell provides the autopilot and the standby instruments are supplied by BF Goodrich.
Image: RAAF C-27J Spartan cockpit view. Photo: courtesy of Hpeterswald.