The Royal Australian Air Force Alenia/L-3 C-27J Spartan will make its first flight in November 2013, roughly one month from now and way ahead from the originally for 2014 planned take-off. A senior RAAF official confirmed this to the international press this week.
The US based L-3 Communications company is the prime contractor for the supply of 10 new C-27Js, originally designed by and produced together with Alenia from Italy. Australia pays about 300 million US dollars and letting it run through the US Foreign Military Sales channel has likely been cheaper than buying the aircraft directly from Italy.
Australia wants to deploy the C-27J as a battlefield airlifter, meaning it has to be able to land and depart quickly on sometimes short and so-called ‘Hot LZs’. The Spartan with two turboprops stands a better change in doing so then the 12 larger four-engine Lockheed C-130J-30s Super Hercules the RAAF operates. It must be able to perform logistical re-supply, medevac, troop movement, airdrop operations and humanitarian assistance in even more difficult environments than the C-130s.
The RAAF C-27Js are being readied at the L-3 plant in Waco, Texas. The first plane will be handed over officially in the beginning of 2014, but will as aircraft 2 and 5 remain in the US for RAAF crew training. The others will make their ferry flights to Australia starting in mid-2015. When the three US ‘residential’ RAAF C-27Js will get down under is yet unclear.
Source: L-3 / Commonwealth of Australia Government