Air National Guard To Have Its Own Fleet Of Aircraft The C-27J





Air National Guard To Have Its Own Fleet Of Aircraft The C-27J

By Ellen Krenke

C-27J Spartan  

November 3, 2009 - Arlington, Va. – The C-27J Spartan is Air National Guard choice of aircraft. In May 2009, the US Army and Army National Guard gave up their rights to all of their aircraft to the US Air Force, primarily the Air National Guard.

"It is the first time in U.S. Air Force history where the service acquired a new airframe solely owned, operated and maintained by the Air National Guard," said Lt. Col. Chris Beckman, the ANG's aviation planning and execution chief.  

C-27J Spartan is a medium-sized military transport aircraft. The C-27J is an advanced derivative of Alenia Aeronautica's G.222 (C-27A Spartan in US service), with the engines and systems of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules. Air National Guard aircrews for the first time, will be the sole operators of a new aircraft straight off the assembly line. 

The C-27J Spartan, the latest propeller-driven airlifter, is an "extremely rugged" aircraft, designed for austere environments, said Air Force officials. It is about half the size of a C-130 Hercules and has 3.5 cargo pallet positions.

A C-27J Spartan taxis on the ramp at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., during flight testing in early 2009. Air Force officials plan to add 38 C-27Js to its inventory, which will be operated by the Air National Guard.

In April, through Resource Management Decision 802, Defense Secretary Robert Gates moved the C-27J program and its related direct support mission from the Army to the Air Force.  Gen. George Casey, the chief of staff of the Army, supported Secretary Gates' decision saying "we need the capability to re-supply our forces. We do not have to fly the planes to get that."

He added that flying fixed-wing aircraft is not the Army's core competency.  Since that time, representatives of the Air Force, Air Mobility Command and the Air National Guard have taken a serious approach to building the program, officials said. "Making a switch like this is no small affair, especially at this phase in the acquisition process," said Lt. Col. Gene Capone, AMC's C-27J test manager at the Joint Program Office.  He added that the Army lost its fiscal year 2010 monies for the C-27J due to RMD 802, so the Air Force will fund the Army's completion of the Multi-Service Operational Test and Evaluation, or MOT&E.  "ANG pilots and loadmasters from the 179th Airlift Wing (in Mansfield, Ohio) and the 175th Wing (in Baltimore) will be the first operational C-27J crews to be trained and deployed and are critical participants in the upcoming MOT&E," Colonel Beckman said. "The MOT&E, which is scheduled for April 2010, will determine if the C-27J program is ready for deployment and domestic operations."   

Two Army National Guard units, Company H, 171st Aviation Regiment from Georgia and 1st Battalion, 245th Airfield Operations Battalion from Oklahoma, also will participate in the MOT&E.  Air Force officials will field 24 C-27J's at ANG units in the following locations: Baltimore; Mansfield, Ohio; Fargo, N.D.; Bradley Air Field, Conn.; Battle Creek, Mich.; and Meridian, Miss.  

"The ANG has played a critical role in the development of the C-27J roadmap to include basing, personnel, aircraft delivery, Air Force instruction and technical order development and review, service transfer and planning for operational execution," Colonel Beckman said.  To prove the direct support concept for transporting U.S. Army time-sensitive and mission-critical payloads, the Ohio ANG's 179AW is leading a test which began several months ago. Following pre-deployment training and integration with an Army Combat Aviation Brigade, the unit's C-130s recently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  "All of this is being done well within the new current execution model of 24 months that all of our forces now live in," Colonel Beckman said. "For example, we are already looking at mobilization packages and have not yet seen a tail or trained crew."

In 1995, Alenia and Lockheed Martin began discussions to improve the Alenia's G.222 using C-130J's glass cockpit with a more powerful version of the G.222's T64G engine and four-blade propellers. The companies began a program for the improved G.222, named C-27J in 1996. This was a US military type designation based on the G.222's C-27A US designation. At this point the design included the C-130J Super Hercules's Rolls-Royce AE 2100 engine and six-blade propeller.  

Alenia and Lockheed Martin formed Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems (LMATTS) for the development of C-27J in 1997. The LMATTS joint venture was later dissolved when Lockheed Martin chose to offer the C-130J as a contender in the same U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) competition in which the C-27J was competing. Alenia Aeronautica then paired with L-3 Communications to form the Global Military Aircraft Systems (GMAS) joint venture to market the C-27J. Boeing Integrated Defense Systems later joined Alenia and L-3 Communications as a GMAS team member. 

The C-27J has a 35% increase in range and a 15% faster cruise speed than the G.222. The Italian Air Force, Hellenic Air Force, Bulgarian Air Force, Romanian Air Force, United States Army and the United States Air Force have ordered the C-27J. Alenia is offering Canada the C-27J as a CC-115 Buffalo replacement. Lithuania ordered the C-27J as an Antonov An-26 replacement. 

The GMAS team bid the C-27J in the Joint Cargo Aircraft competition against Raytheon and EADS North America's C-295. Both the U.S. Army and Air Force JCA orders combined are expected to top 100 aircraft. The JCA will eventually replace the existing C-23 Sherpa, C-12 Huron and C-26 Metroliners in the Army National Guard, and will become a substitute tactical airlift platform for those Air National Guard airlift groups or airlift wings losing C-130E/H/J aircraft to retirement (C-130E) or Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action redistribution of aircraft (C-130H/C-130J). 

The C-27J had completed the U.S. Department of Defense's Early User Survey evaluations by November 2006, flying 26 hours and surpassing all the JCA program requirements. The GMAS team also announced that the C-27J will be assembled at a facility at Cecil Field, Duval County, Florida. While the final selection of the JCA was expected to be announced in March 2007, the decision came on 13 June 2007, when the Pentagon selected the C-27J as its Joint Cargo Aircraft. A contract worth US$2.04 billion was awarded to the L-3 Communications team for 78 C-27Js along with training and support on 13 June 2007. 

On 22 June 2007, Raytheon formally protested the award of the JCA contract to the Alenia C-27J. On 27 September 2007, the GAO announced that it had denied Raytheon’s protest, thereby allowing the Pentagon to go ahead with the C-27J procurement. Prior to Raytheon's protest, the first C-27J aircraft were to begin delivery to the joint US Army-Air Force test and training program in June 2008. The first flight of a US C-27J occurred on 17 June 2008. 

The C-27J was being considered as a sole-source contract by the Government of Canada as a future replacement for its current search and rescue airfleet, the contract being worth approximately C$3 billion as of January 2007. 

Romania ordered seven C-27Js for delivery from 2008 to replace Antonov An-24 and An-26 aircraft, beating the EADS CASA C-295. However, the order was blocked by the government in February 2007 upon a legal challenge filed by EADS. In June 2007, the order was confirmed again when the Romanian court rejected EADS' complaint. The Romanian government officially signed a contract for the delivery of seven C-27Js on 7 December 2007. 

The C-27J is a probable contender for a Royal Australian Air Force requirement for light airlifer to replace its aging DHC-4 Caribou. Currently orders stand at Italy (12), Greece (12 + 3 options), Bulgaria (5), Lithuania (3), Morocco (4), Romania (7), and United States (78). 

The US Air Force is shifting US$32 million from the Pentagon's 2008 budget to purchase a C-27J for the Air Force Special Operations Command. The AC-27J will be equipped using proven hardware and systems to reduce risk. 

Italy received its first C-27J in October 2006. The Italian Air Force deployed two C-27Js to Afghanistan from 12 September 2008 to 27 January 2009 in support NATO airlift operations. 

On 13 November 2007, the first C-27J was delivered to the Bulgarian Air Force. 

The United States received its first C-27J on 25 September 2008. In May 2009, the US Army/Army National Guard lose all of their aircraft to the US Air Force, primarily the Air National Guard, and the total buy reduced in half to 38 aircraft. As of April 2009, the Army had accepted deliveries of two aircraft and had 11 more on order. 

The Canadian Forces Air Command has identified the C-27J as one of two candidates to replace the de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo and would be purchasing 15 aircraft. 

It was announced on 21 August 2009 that Taiwan had entered price negotiotians with Alenia Aeronautica for the sale of six C-27J Spartan aircraft. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Ghana of four C-27Js on 9 September 2009.  

 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator