The Alenia C-27J Spartan is the military transport aircraft that was designed and manufactured by the company named Leonardo Aircraft Division which is also formerly known as Alenia Aermacchi. The Alenia C-27J Spartan is an advanced version of the C-27A Spartan that was previously in use of the US military but is equipped with better engines along with numerous other systems that are used on heavy and giant aircraft such as the C-130J Super Hercules.
The main role for which the aircraft was manufactured is transportation but other than that it has several other variants that can serve the following roles as well.
- maritime patrol
- search and rescue
- C3 ISR (command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance)
- fire support
- electronic warfare
Back in 2007, the Alenia C-27J Spartan was selected by the US military as their Joint Cargo Aircraft or also shortly known as JCA but by the time in 2012, it was retired by the USAF due to budget cuts. Later on numerous of these Alenia C-27J Spartans were handed down to the United States Special Operation Command (USSOC) and The US Coast Guard. Other than that it has also been ordered by following other world militaries as well.
For our readers, we have gathered a bunch of fascinating facts about the Alenia C-27J Spartan; the Joint cargo aircraft which are down below.
The Alenia C-27J Spartan was made to be a beefed-up successor for its previous version the Alenia G.222 or also known as US Military C-27A. In order for it to be more powerful, the aircraft which previously had T64 engines, its engines were replaced by 4.5K Rolls Royce AW 2100. These are the same engines that quite identical to the ones that are fitted inside the C-130J Super Hercules.
In addition to changing the engines, the propeller blades, which were previously 4, also changed to 6 blades. These upgrades allowed the Alenia C-27J Spartan to have its flight time increased by 35 percent as well as its speed to be increased by 15 percent.
The plan to build a versatile heavy airlifting aircraft was started by Lockheed Martin and Alenia Aermacchi back in 1996. The plan was to create an aircraft based on the design of the G.222 transporter and was designated as C-27J. This new aircraft was supposed to have numerous features that were in the C-130J Super Hercules like the following.
- Glass Cockpit
- Powerful engines
- Upgraded Cargo hold
In addition to that, the avionics were also upgraded for them to be in compliance with the MIL-STD-1553 standard. These standards were introduced by the US Air Force back in 1973. As for these upgrades, they were actually carried out by USAF themselves on Alenia C-27J Spartan after they purchased the fleet of G.222 back in 1990.
An Aircraft serving the National Guard
Back in 19997, both Lockheed Martin and Alenia joined hands to form a joint operations company named LMATTS (Lockheed Martin Alenia Military Tactical Transport Systems). The mission of this joint operation force was to create the C-27J Spartan. The US Army and US Air Force were both in need of a single aircraft to fulfill the roles of their National and Air National Guard with use of a single airframe. Or this purpose they held a competition back in 2006 with the name of Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA). Lockheed Martin had to part ways with Alenia after they had plans to introduce the C-130J in this competition.
Once having parted ways with Lockheed Martin, Alenia partnered with L-3 Communications, thus forming the Global Military Aircraft Systems (GMAS). They entered the competition with their Alenia C-27J Spartan. As for Lockheed Martin and their C-130J Super Hercules, it was disqualified from the competition as it could not fulfill a minimum of the mission requirements.
As for Alenia C-27J Spartan, it won splendidly against the C-295 built by Raytheon and EADS North America back in June of 2007. As a prize, GMAS was awarded a contract worth 2.04 billion dollars by Pentagon for the production of a total of 78 Alenia C-27J Spartans; 54 of which were for the Army National Guard while the rest 24 were for the Air National Guard.
The very first Alenia C-27J Spartan was received by the US army back in 2008 and the L-3 was responsible for the training of aircrew and maintenance at the Georgia National Guard Flight Facility located in Robin’s Air Force Base. However, after just two months of receiving their second Alenia C-27J Spartan, the army decided to give away their entire allocated fleet of the Alenia C-27J Spartans to the US Air Force’s Air National Guard.
The ever first time the Alenia C-27J Spartan saw action was at Kandahar Airfield located in Afghanistan back in August of 2011. The Alenia C-27J Spartan operated under the command of 2 army aviation units; the 159th and 25th Combat Aviation Brigades. During this mission, Alenia C-27J Spartan relived the CH-47 Chinook form its role of delivering the army troops with containers filled with following.
Retiring from National Guard
Department of Defense cited in 2012 about the excess of having airlift capabilities and decided to divest their entire fleet of the Alenia C-27J Spartans. The cost for the maintenance of the Alenia C-27J Spartan was 100 million dollars more than it needed to operate the C-130J over their lifetime.
The air force released a report in which they stated that they would retire the Alenia C-27J Spartan in the fiscal year 2013. The very first and the very last of the domestic support mission that Alenia C-27J Spartan flew with Air National guard was back in November of 2012 which was for aid mission for the Hurricane Sandy relief.
Srving US Coast Guard
After the US Air Force decided to retire the Alenia C-27J Spartan, they sent 12 of their 166 Alenia C-27J Spartans to the boneyard and the Alenia company also announced that they would no longer be providing support for their Alenia C-27J Spartans which were sold to international customers.
Three of the following federal agencies showed their interest in acquiring these retired Alenia C-27J Spartans.
- US Coast Guard
- US Special Operations Command (SOCOM)
- US Forest Service
7 of the Alenia C-27J Spartans which were not in storage were sent to the SOCOM while the 14 of them were sent to the US Coast Guard. This allowed US Coast Guard to cancel their previous order for the HC-144 Sentry that allowed them to save a sum of 500 to 800 million dollars.