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.
The first Peruvian Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan was accepted by the Fuerza Aerea del Perù in February in Turin, Italy – as reported here – but on Friday 27 March the type was introduced into service during a ceremony at Las Palmas airbase near the Peruvian capital Lima.
The first aircraft is part of the contract for two aircraft, signed between Alenia Aermacchi and Peru in December 2013, followed one year later by a second contract for two additional C-27Js. The airplanes’ deliveries will end in 2017 and will be managed by the Air Group n. 8 at the Callao base, on the central coast of the country.
The C-27J has been selected thanks to is capability of operating safely and efficiently and at competitive costs in all operational scenarios of this Latin American Country, including activities on semi-prepared airstrips of the Andes and of the many local airports, at high altitudes and with hot weather.
The Peruvians will employ the C-27J as a strategic asset in passenger and cargo transport, humanitarian, fire-fighting, search and rescue and internal security missions. Alenia Aermacchi recently said more interest into the Spartan has been shown by other Latin American countries, with Chile named this week as a likely customer.
In addition to Peru the C-27J Spartan has already been ordered by the Air Forces of Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, Morocco and Slovakia, as well as the US, Mexico, Australia and Chad, for a total of 80 airplanes.
Look up ‘Spartan’ in a dictionary, and you’ll see the word means a) ‘of or relating to the Greek city of Sparta or its people’, b) ‘rigorously self-disciplined or self-restrained’, or finally c) ‘courageous in the face of pain or danger’. That sounds about right for the Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan, that saw its first delivery to Peru last week. However, the multi-mission, benchmark-setting C-27J is not from an ancient Greek city, it is from modern day Turin in Italy, where a visit to the Alenia Aermacchi production line proves that putting together a tough Spartan is actually a delicate and dedicated task.
To be specific, the birth place of all 65 Spartans built to date, is a large assembly hall in the northwest corner of Turin Caselle airport. “And to be even more specific”, says Francesco Dogliatti, C-27J product coordinator, “major components such as the fuselage, cockpit and rear fuselage are built in Capodichino near Naples, after which they are brought by truck or by boat to Turin, where all comes together. Here, we build the best and most cost effective solution for tactical airlift and other missions.”
Order sheet It’s talk that sounded like music in the ears of Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Rumania, Chad, Morocco, the US, Mexico, Australia and Peru. Slovakia is the latest in the list of customers, confirming an order for two aircraft in October last year. In total, the order sheet for the C-27J Spartans shows 80 entries so far. Among those are aircraft that were purchased by the US Air Force, but eventually see use by the US Coast Guard and United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).
Flexible Alenia Aermacchi is confident it will sell more Spartans, with interest drawn from other Latin American countries than Peru. Dogliatti: “The strength of this aircraft is its flexibility. In standard configuration, it can transport up to 60 troops or up to 11,100 kg of payload. In a medevac role, it takes up to 36 stretchers and six attendants.” It offers the capability to fly into places that are unfit for ‘that other’ transport aircraft named after Greek mythology, the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. While the Hercules carries more load, the Spartan is certainly more flexible and not Spartan at all in its performance. The Spartan is a known airshow crowd pleaser, with barrel rolls unthinkable for any other aircraft this size. For the large part, its two Rolls Royce AE 2100D2 engines are key, as there’s plenty of power in those.
A range of roll-on/roll-off mission kits adds to the Spartan’s flexibility, with even a forest fire fighting kit available. Most impressive kit is the one that turns the C-27J into the combat MC-27J Praetorian, complete with a L-3 Wescam MX-15Di Electro-Optical and Infrared Turret mounted under the nose to support gunship, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and search and rescue (SAR) missions. The ATK GAU-23 30mm gun sticking out of the fuselage will convince anyone not to mess with the Praetorian. Tests in the US proved successful in 2014, and Alenia Aermacchi has high hopes as well for selling the MC-27J.
New things More developments are on the way, details about which remain a company secret right now. “We’re trying out some new things on our two C-27J demonstrators”, says Dogliatti, who oversees the Spartan program. During Airheadsfly.com’s visit to Turin in February, production was in full swing with C-27Js in various stages of the build process. Alenia Aermacchi is currently producing aircraft for Peru and Australia. The ‘Down Under’ aircraft are first flown to the US, where further modifications and flight training for Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) crews are done.
Alenia Aermacchi focuses on giving these crews a top notch product in every sense. “We strive for daily perfection. One specialist is dedicated every day to quality control, randomly choosing one aircraft on the production line and monitoring just about everything, from the installation of a complete vertical tail to the fitting of the tiniest screw. It’s a very delicate task.”
But it doesn’t stop there. Once the aircraft leaves the production hall, it heads to the south side of Turin Caselle, where extensive testing takes places in the hands of Alenia Aermacchi test pilots and customer personnel. Every single switch and functionality is tested in the Spartan’s NVG-adaptable cockpit, which was purposely designed to show commonality with the C-130 flight deck, to ease conversion training. After these tests, it’s time to fly the Spartan.
When accepting their first of four Spartans on 27 February 2015 in Turin, Peruvian officials said that the aircraft ‘exceeded expectations’. To the Alenia Aermacchi workers, it’s no surprise. The Peruvians then took their brand new aircraft for a long flight over Italy, in preparation for the even longer delivery flight to its new home. The Fuerza Aerea del Perù is welcoming the spectacular Spartan.