European Air Transport Command (EATC) has added 31 Italian Air Force transport and tanker aircraft to its command, the Italian ministry of Defense announced this week. EATC is based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and now has 220 European tanker and transport aircraft at its disposal, equal to over 60 percent of all military air transport assets in Europe.
Joining the command of EATC are four Boeing KC-767 tankers, twenty Lockheed C-130Js and seven Alenia C-27J Spartans. Italy and Spain formally joined EATC already in 2014, but the former still had to transfer operational control over its tanker and transport fleet to EATC.
The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Spain and Italy are now part of EATC. Military transport and air-to-air refueling exercises are regularly held, such as this one in 2015.
Canada is set to close a tender for a new Fix Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft on 11 January. Making a bid are FNM Aeronautics (formerly Alenia Aermacchi) with its C-27J Spartan, Airbus with its C295 and reportedly, Embraer with its yet-to-finish-development KC-390. Also, Lockheed Martin wil probably pitch its C-130J Super Hercules.
The closing of the tender marks the beginning of a selection in which the Brazilian KC-390 is definitely an outsider with a marginally chance of winning. The new aircraft should replace ageing de Havilland CC-115 Buffalos and Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules aircraft needed for other tasks.
The CC-115 has been in service for nearly five decades, providing long range SAR coverage over vast empty oceans and vast empty stretches of Arctic ice. The new aircraft is to do exactly the same.
Canada’s quest for an FWSAR aircraft has been a prolonged one. It started in 2004 and should have materialized into a ready aircraft in 2009. For various and mainly political reasons, that never happened.
The new type should be selected later in 2016 and deliveries are to start in 2018 with completion in 2023. A number of 17 aircraft has been mentioned, but it remains to be seen wether that will actually be the number on the final contract.
The Peruvian Air Force has plans to triple the size of its Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan fleet. According to the Italian aircraft manufacturer’s mother company talks are ongoing for the possible purchase of 6 to 8 additional tactical airlifters of the type.
The Latin American country ordered four C-27Js already, the first and second of which were delivered this year. The third is expected to arrive before the end of the year. Apparently Peru is very happy with the aircraft’s performance and capabilities and is therefore looking for more. The news about the talks was broken by CEO Mauro Moretti of Finmeccanica, the mother company of Alenia Aermacchi.
Las Palmas Airbase near the Peruvian capital Lima saw introduction of the first new aircraft on 27 March 2015, with the C-27Js tasked to perform passenger and cargo transport, humanitarian operations, fire-fighting, medevac, airdrops and search and rescue missions.
An Alenia Aermacchi spokesperson on Friday 30 October confirmed talks are being held, but formal negotiations have still to start. The Italian company cannot confirm the number of aircraft Peru would likely order, but it is no secret the country in the past talked about a requirement of 12 Spartans.
Italian aircraft manufacturer Alenia Aermacchi is “pimping” its tactical airlifter C-27J Spartan, not only with winglets like we reported in July, but also with better Rolls-Royce engines and new avionics, our sources in Italy confirm.
The updated aircraft will be ready by 2017, according to recent plans. The aim is to increase the maximum take-off weight by about 1500 lbs (700 kg) and giving the aircraft additional climb ratio after take-off, which can be quite handy for a tactical airlifter in war situations.
Alenia Aermacchi reportedly is also working on an avionics upgrade that even current users of the C-27J could implement. Compared to the larger Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules, the C-27J Spartan is able to operate from even shorter landing and take-off strips, and with two engines is more economic to use.
The C-27J is already operated by the Italian Air Force (12 aircraft), the Hellenic Air Force (8), the Romanian Air Force (7), the Royal Moroccan Air Force (4), the Mexican Air Force (4), the Bulgarian Air Force (3), the Lithuanian Air Force (3) and the Chadian Air Force (2). Deliveries are underway or will commence to the Royal Australian Air Force (10 ordered), the Peruvian Air Force (4 ordered), the Slovak Air Force (2 ordered) and the Zambia Air Force (2 ordered). Moreover, L3 Systems in Waco is delivering seven C-27Js to the US Special Operations Command and 14 to the US Coast Guard. Taiwan is said to be interested in 6 C-27Js through the US Foreign Military Sales Program.
The Baltic states provided the stage again for NATO exercise BRTE on Tuesday 29 September. It’s training on the job for Hungarian Saab Gripen and German Eurofighter Typhoon crews, who are on in the Baltics foremost for Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duties. Finnish F-18 Hornet and Swedish Saab Gripen pilots also played are part in BRTE.
The abbreviation stands for Baltic Region Training Events, a series of military flying exercises conducted over the Baltics and Baltic Sea. The exercise is meant to keep QRA-crews on their toes. The Hungarians protect the Baltics from intruders from Šiauliai airbase in Lithuania, while the German do so from Ämari airbase in Estonia.
Today’s exercise focussed on Siauliai, with a Lithuanian C-27J Spartan simulating a loss of communications (COMLOSS) in Estonian airspace. German Eurofighter Typhoons launched to intercept and identify the transport aircraft and then hand it over to the Hungarian Saab Gripen jets, which escorted it back to Šiauliai. Also involved were a NATO Boeing E-3 AWACS and a US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker.