Alenia C-27J Spartan

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"C-27 Spartan" redirects here. For the earlier C-27A Spartan, see Aeritalia G.222.
C-27J Spartan
LAF Spartan 07.jpg
Lithuanian Air Force C-27J Spartan
Role Military transport aircraft
National origin Italy
Manufacturer Alenia Aeronautica
Alenia Aermacchi
First flight 24 September 1999
Introduction October 2006 (Italy)
Status In service
Primary users Italian Air Force
United States Air Force
Hellenic Air Force
See Operators below for others
Produced 1997–present
Unit cost
US$53.3 million (2012)[1]
Developed from Aeritalia G.222

The Alenia C-27J Spartan is a medium-sized military transport aircraft. The C-27J is an advanced derivative of Alenia Aeronautica's G.222 (C-27A Spartan in U.S. service), with the engines and systems of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules. The aircraft was selected as the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) for the United States military, for which L-3 Communications is the prime contractor.

The C-27J has also been ordered by the military air units of Australia, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Romania, Peru and Slovakia.

Design and development[edit]

In 1995, Alenia and Lockheed Martin began discussions to improve Alenia's G.222 using C-130J's glass cockpit and a more powerful version of the G.222's T64G engine and four-blade propellers. In 1996, a program began on an improved G.222, named C-27J, it used a U.S. military type designation based on the G.222's own C-27A designation. In 1997, Alenia and Lockheed Martin formed Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems (LMATTS) to develop the C-27J. The design changed to use the C-130J Super Hercules's Rolls-Royce AE 2100 engine and six-blade propeller.[2] Other changes include a fully digital 1553 systems and avionics architecture, and an updated cargo compartment for increased commonality.[3] The C-27J has a 35% increase in range and a 15% faster cruise speed than the G.222.[2]

By 2005, the U.S. Army had identified the need to replace its aging C-23 Sherpa lifter. In lieu of adequate fixed-wing airlift availability, the CH-47 helicopter fleet was being worked hard on the "last tactical mile" to supply forward-placed troops; thus the U.S. Army sought the C-27J for its direct support capabilities, and to reduce demands on the CH-47 fleet.[4] In 2006, LMATTS was dissolved when Lockheed Martin offered the C-130J in 2006 as a contender in the same U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) competition in which the C-27J was competing.[5] Alenia Aeronautica then paired with L-3 Communications, forming the Global Military Aircraft Systems (GMAS) joint venture to market the C-27J;[6] Boeing also joined GMAS.[7]

The GMAS team bid the C-27J in the JCA competition against Raytheon and EADS North America's C-295 to replace existing Short C-23 Sherpa, Beechcraft C-12 Huron and Fairchild C-26 Metroliners in the Army National Guard, and as a substitute tactical airlifter for Air National Guard groups or wings losing C-130 aircraft to retirement or Base Realignment and Closures.[8][9] By November 2006, the C-27J completed the U.S. Department of Defense's Early User Survey evaluations, having flown a total of 26 hours and surpassed all program requirements. The GMAS team also announced that the C-27J will be assembled at a facility at Cecil Field, Duval County, Florida.[10] The JCA's final selection was expected in March 2007, however it was postponed until 13 June 2007, when the Pentagon announced the award of a US$2.04 billion contract for 78 C-27Js, including training and support, to GMAS.[9][11]

A C-27J Spartan on the assembly line in Italy, April 2012

On 22 June 2007, Raytheon formally protested the JCA contract award for the C-27J.[12] On 27 September 2007, the GAO announced that it had denied Raytheon's protest, thereby allowing the Pentagon to proceed with procurement;[13] at this time, the U.S. Army had requirement for up to 75 aircraft in the Army National Guard; the Air Force had a requirement for up to 70 aircraft in the Air Force Special Operations Command and the Air National Guard.[9] The first C-27J was to be scheduled to be delivered to the joint U.S. Army–Air Force test and training program in June 2008;[14] the first flight of a U.S. C-27J occurred on 17 June 2008.[15]

Romania ordered seven C-27Js for delivery from 2008 to replace Antonov An-24 and Antonov An-26 aircraft, beating the EADS CASA C-295;[16] however, this order was blocked by the Romanian government in February 2007 upon a legal challenge filed by EADS.[17] In June 2007, the order was confirmed again when the Romanian court rejected EADS' complaint.[18] The Romanian government officially signed the contract for the delivery of seven C-27Js on 7 December 2007,[19] with the first two Spartans delivered on 12 April 2010.[20]

As of 2013, orders stand at Italy (12), Greece (12), Bulgaria (3), Lithuania (3), Morocco (4), Romania (7), Mexico (4), United States (38), Australia (10) and Peru (4).[19][21][22][23]

Operational history[edit]

United States[edit]

The United States received its first C-27J on 25 September 2008.[24] In September 2008, L-3 Link's C-27J schoolhouse officially began classes at the Georgia Army National Guard Flight Facility, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. By April 2009, the U.S. Army had accepted deliveries of two aircraft and had 11 more on order.[25] In May 2009, the U.S. Army/Army National Guard relinquished all aircraft to the U.S. Air Force, primarily the Air National Guard, this led to the purchase being reduced to 38 C-27s and the USAF receiving total control of all US C-27Js.[26][23] Initially, the C-27J to be operated by the Air National Guard for direct support of the United States Army, later both Army National Guard and Air National Guard flight crews support the aircraft's fielding. By July 2010, the U.S. Air National Guard had received four C-27Js for testing and training, initial operational capability was then expected in October 2010.[27] The U.S. Air Force also planned the C-27J's first combat deployment for Summer 2011.[28]

C-27J with prop vortices condensation at the Paris Air Show

In August 2011, two C-27Js flown by Air National Guard aircrews, augmented with Army National Guard personnel, began operations at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan.[29][30] Between August 2011 and June 2012, the C-27Js of the 179th Airlift Wing, followed by the 175th Wing executed more than 3200 missions transporting over 25,000 passengers, and 1400 tons of cargo.[4] Via tactical control of the C-27Js, the U.S. Army was able to employ helicopters more efficiently, splitting missions between the two platforms based on their relative strengths.[31]

On 26 January 2012, the Department of Defense announced plans to retire all 38 USAF C-27Js on order due to excess intratheater airlift capacity and budgetary pressures.[32] The C-27J's duties are to be taken by the C-130.[33] In February 2012, Alenia warned that it would not provide support for C-27Js resold by the US to international customers in competition with future orders.[34] On 23 March 2012, the USAF announced the C-27J's retirement in fiscal year 2013 after determining other program's budgetary needs and changing requirements for a new Pacific strategy.[35][36] The cut was opposed by the Air National Guard and by various legislators.[citation needed]

In July 2012 the USAF suspended flight operations following a flight control system failure.[37] By 2013, newly built C-27Js were being sent directly to the Davis–Monthan Air Force Base boneyard.[38] The USAF spent $567 million on 21 C-27Js since 2007, with 16 delivered by the end of September 2013; 12 had been taken out of service while a further five were to be built by April 2014 as they were too near completion to be worth cancelling. Budget cuts motivated the divesture; a C-27J allegedly costs $308 million over its lifespan in comparison with a C-130's $213 million 25-year lifespan cost.[39]

In November 2012, the C-27J deployed for its first domestic mission, contributing to the Hurricane Sandy relief effort.[40]

In July 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard was considered acquiring up to 14 of the 21 retired C-27Js and converting them for search-and-rescue missions, while cancelling undelivered orders for the HC-144 Ocean Sentry to save $500–$800 million. EADS claimed that the HC-144 costs half as much as the C-27J to maintain and operate. The U.S. Forest Service also wanted 7 C-27Js for aerial firefighting.[41] The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) were interested in acquiring ex-USAF C-27Js. If the DoD determined it could not afford the aircraft, they would go to the Forest Service.[42] In late 2013, SOCOM was allocated 7 C-27Js to replace its CASA 212 training aircraft.[43] In December 2013, the 14 remaining C-27Js were transferred to the Coast Guard.[44]


An Italian Air Force C-27J in 2013

Italy received its first C-27J in October 2006.[45] The Italian Air Force deployed two C-27Js to Afghanistan from 12 September 2008 to 27 January 2009 in support NATO airlift operations.[46][47]

In March 2011, the Bulgarian Air Force received its last of three C-27Js ordered. Bulgaria had initially ordered five in 2006, but reduced its order in 2010.[48][49][50]

Possible sales[edit]

The Royal Australian Air Force has made a Foreign Military Sales request for 10 C-27Js light air lifters valued up to US$950m to replace its retired DHC-4 Caribou fleet.[51][52] One advantage identified by the RAAF over the rival C-295, is the C-27J's wider and taller cabin that makes it compatible with the Australian Army's general purpose G-Wagon vehicle[53] and palletized goods.[54][55]

The C-27J was being considered as a sole-source contract by the Government of Canada as a future replacement for its current search and rescue air fleet; this contract was worth approximately C$3 billion in January 2007.[56]

Slovakia's air force has selected the C-27J and is negotiating an order for at least two aircraft.[57]

The Indian Air Force has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for 16 medium military transport aircraft. Alenia Aeronautica responded with information about the C-27J.[58]

On 21 August 2009, Taiwan announced that it had entered price negotiations with Alenia Aeronautica for the sale of six C-27J Spartan aircraft.[59] Indonesia is considering the purchase of the C-27J as of March 2011.[60]

The C-27J has been shortlisted as a candidate for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) medium lift aircraft program. A joint team from the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) and PAF inspected the C-27J in January 2012.[61] The DND already received approval from the Philippine president to purchase 3 units, and is awaiting congressional approval as of November 2012.[62]

In June 2013, the Peruvian Air Force began negotiations to acquire four C-27J aircraft for $200 million. Future purchases may increase the total to 12 Spartans.[63] The C-27J is part of a competition that includes the EADS CASA C-295, the Antonov An-70, the upgraded Antonov An-32, and the Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules.[64] On 25 November 2013 the Peruvian Air Force selected the C-27J as their new transport aircraft. Two aircraft and all of their support would be purchased under an 100 million-euro deal.[65]


A USAF C-27J of the 164th Airlift Squadron in 2010.

AC-27J Stinger II[edit]

The AC-27J was a proposed gunship for the U.S. Air Force. In 2008, US$32 million was reallocated to purchase a C-27J for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, to fulfill the requirements that AFSOC had defined under the AC-XX concept, a replacement for the aging and extensively used Lockheed AC-130s.[66] The AC-27J was to be equipped using proven hardware and systems to reduce risk.[66][67][68] AFSOC planned to acquire 16 aircraft, the first gunship in 2011 and two more per year from 2012 to 2015.

The AC-27J was to serve as a multi-mission platform, equipped with full-motion cameras and outfitted to support covert infiltration missions as well as providing armed support for ground forces, armed with either a 30-millimeter or 40-millimeter gun or precision-guided munitions such as the Viper Strike bomb.[69] At the Air Force Association's 2008 conference, it was reported that the AC-27J variant would be named "Stinger II" after the AC-119K Stinger.[66][70]

C-27A 90-0170 was removed from storage at AMARC in October 2008 and delivered to Eglin AFB, Florida, for use by the Air Force Research Laboratory to test the feasibility of mounting of 30 mm and 40 mm guns. In May 2009, the program was put on hold because U.S. Army funding for 40 C-27s in an Army–Air Force cooperative purchase was removed from the fiscal 2010 budget.[71] U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command elected to standardize their fleet with the C-130 to meet its stated need for gunships.[72][73]

MC-27J Praetorian[edit]

The MC-27J is a development of the C-27J for multi-mission purposes, including command and control, communications, and operations as an armed gunship. In the gunship role, the MC-27J can integrate Hellfire missiles and precision-guided munitions, as well as an optionally equipped 30 mm gun can be installed and rapidly uninstalled when not required. It features systems to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, as well as a defensive aids suite.[74] In July 2012, Alenia Aermacchi announced its intention to offer an upgrade program for existing C-27Js to the MC-27J configuration in the future.[75] The MC-27J is being developed as an Alenia-ATK private venture.

The Italian air force will convert three C-27Js into MC-27J Pretorians in 2016.[76][77]

EC-27 "Jedi"[edit]

In 2010, the Italian Air Force announced the development of an electronic warfare package for its C-27 fleet under the jamming and electronic defence instrumentation (Jedi) program. One publicised ability of the aircraft is the disruption of radio communications and, in particular, remote detonators commonly used on improvised explosive devices (IEDs).[78] The EC-27 has been compared to the capabilities of the USAF's Lockheed EC-130H Compass Call.[79]


World operators of the C-27J Spartan
For G.222/G222 and C-27A operators, see Aeritalia G.222.
Lithuanian Air Force C-27J Spartan with an aerial refueling probe
Romanian Air Force C-27J at Otopeni Air Show 2010
  • Bulgarian Air Force has three C-27J aircraft in service as of January 2012.[83] (with the 1/16 Transport Squadron)
  • Hellenic Air Force has eight C-27J aircraft in use as of January 2012[83] with the 354th TTS "Pegasus" (112th Combat Wing - Air Force Support Command)
  • Italian Air Force has 12 aircraft in operation as of January 2012[83] with 46th Air Brigade (Operational Forces Command).
  • Romanian Air Force has six C-27Js in service as of October 2013.[89] It ordered seven aircraft with deliveries to be completed in 2014.[89] The aircraft operate with the 902nd Transport and Reconnaissance Squadron of the 90th Airlift Flotilla.
 United States

Specifications (C-27J)[edit]

C-27J cabin

Data from Alenia Aeronautica,[95] C-27J facts[96]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Minimum two: pilot, co-pilot, (plus loadmaster when needed)
  • Capacity: 60 troops or 46 paratroops or 36 litters with 6 medical personnel
Cargo compartment: width 3.33 m X height 2.25 m
  • Payload: 11,500 kg (25,353 lb)
  • Length: 22.7 m (74 ft 6 in)
  • Wingspan: 28.7 m (94 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 9.64 m (31 ft 8 in)
  • Wing area: 82 m2 (880 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 17,000 kg (37,479 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 30,500 kg (67,241 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce AE2100-D2A turboprop, 3,460 kW (4,640 hp) each
  • Propellers: 6-bladed Dowty Propeller 391/6-132-F/10, 4.15 m (13 ft 7 in) diameter


  • Maximum speed: 602 km/h (374 mph; 325 kn)
  • Cruising speed: 583 km/h (362 mph; 315 kn)
  • Minimum control speed: 194 km/h; 121 mph (105 kn)
  • Range: 1,852 km (1,151 mi; 1,000 nmi) with 10,000 kilograms (22,000 lb) payload
  • Range at 6,000 kg payload: 4,260 km (2,650 mi; 2,300 nmi)
  • Ferry range: 5,926 km (3,682 mi; 3,200 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 9,144 m (30,000 ft)

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



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  • Eden, Paul, ed. "Alenia G222 and C-27, Mini-Hercules". Encyclopedia of Modern Military Aircraft. London: Amber Books, 2004. ISBN 1-904687-84-9.

External links[edit]