Ten Alenia C-27J Spartan Battlefield Airlift aircraft are planned to replace the Caribou aircraft which was retired from service in 2009 after a career spanning more than four decades. The C-27J complements the capabilities of the current C-130 and C-17 aircraft and uses common C-130 infrastructure and aircraft systems such as engines, avionics and the cargo handling systems.
The acquisition of the C-27J will significantly improve the Australian Defence Force’s ability to move troops, equipment and supplies. The C-27J has the capacity to carry significant load and still access small, soft, narrow runways that are too short for the C-130J or runways which are unable to sustain repeated use by larger aircraft.
Within Australia, the C-27J can access over 1900 airfields compared to around 500 for the C-130 Hercules aircraft. In our region, the C-27J can access over 400 airfields compared to around 200 for the C-130 Hercules aircraft.
The new aircraft will provide battlefield airlift but are also capable of conducting airlift in our region. They can operate from rudimentary airstrips in Australia and overseas and can support humanitarian missions in remote locations.
The flexibility of the C-27J allows it to undertake a wide range of missions from delivering ammunition to front line troops to undertaking aero-medical evacuation of casualities.
A Battlefield Airlifter needs to be able to operate in a high threat environment. The C-27J with its missile warning systems, electronic self protection, secure communications and battlefield armour provides protection from threats ranging from small arms to highly lethal man portable air defence systems (MANPADS).
The C-27J was assessed by Defence as the aircraft which best met all the essential capability requirements and provides the best value for money. It was assessed as being able to fly further, faster and higher while carrying more cargo and requiring a smaller runway than the other aircraft that were under consideration.
All ten C-27J will be based at RAAF Base Richmond.
Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the C-27J is expected in late 2016.
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