The government of Slovakia has confirmed it has finally decided to buy two C-27J Spartan tactical airlifters from Italian aircraft builder Alenia Aermacchi, with the contract to be signed in the last week of October. The deal is also likely to be officially announced by then. The two aircraft replace a small fleet of older Antonov An-26 transporters.
Talks about the Slovak purchase have ongoing for years. The deadly crash of a Slovak Antonov in 2008 in neighbouring Hungaria sparked a debate about replacing the old, Soviet era airlifters. The Slovak Air Force transport fleet is based at Malacky airbase, with VIP transport taking place from the capital of Bratislava.
According to Alenia Aermacchi, the C-27J Spartan is ideal for troop and materials transport, medical evacuation, paratroop and materials airdrops, search and rescue (SAR), logistic supply, humanitarian support, firefighting and civil emergency operations support. Purpose-designed kits also allow VIP transport and other missions. The combat MC-27J version is currently in development.
Slovakia should receive its first aircraft in 2016, with the second following a year later. Other C-27J operators include the United States (21, including 14 used by the US Coast Guard and 7 for the Army Special Operations Command), Italy (12), Greece (8), Romania (7), Morocco (4), Mexico (4), Bulgaria (3) and Lithuania (3). Australia ordered 10 Spartans, with the first one up for delivery next year, while Peru is up for four aircraft. with first delivery exptected next March. An African country – never publicly disclosed but known to be Chad – also ordered two Spartans.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest