Military Wiki
C-27J Spartan
Role Military transport aircraft
National origin Italy
Manufacturer Alenia Aeronautica
Alenia Aermacchi
Introduction October 2006 (Italy)
Status In service
Primary users Italian Air Force
United States Air Force
Hellenic Air Force
See Operators below for others
Produced 1997–present
Number built 52[citation needed]
Unit cost
US$53.3 million (2012)[1]
Developed from Aeritalia G.222

The Alenia 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 U.S. service), with the engines and systems of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules. The aircraft was selected as the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) for the United States military, for which L3 is the prime contractor.

The C-27J has also been ordered by the military air units of Australia, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco and Romania.

Design and development

In 1995, Alenia and Lockheed Martin began discussions to improve Alenia's G.222 using C-130J's glass cockpit and 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 U.S. military type designation based on the G.222's C-27A U.S. designation. Then the design was changed to use 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.[2] The C-27J has a 35% increase in range and a 15% faster cruise speed than the G.222.[2]

By 2005, the U.S. Army had identified the need to replace its aging C-23 Sherpa lifter. The Sherpa's performance was inadequate in the hot, high terrain of Southwest Asia.[citation needed] In lieu of adequate fixed-wing airlift availability, the U.S. Army's CH-47 helicopter fleet was being worked hard to fill the "last tactical mile" transporting supplies to forward located troops. The C-27J was intended by the U.S. Army to give "Direct Support" capability, and reduce the stress on their CH-47 fleet.[3]

The LMATTS joint venture was later dissolved when Lockheed Martin chose to offer the C-130J in 2006 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.[4] Alenia Aeronautica then paired with L-3 Communications to form the Global Military Aircraft Systems (GMAS) joint venture to market the C-27J.[5] Boeing later joined Alenia and L-3 Communications as a GMAS team member.[6]

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 Short C-23 Sherpa, Beechcraft C-12 Huron and Fairchild 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-130 aircraft to retirement or Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action redistribution of aircraft (C-130H/C-130J).[7][8] The C-27J 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.[9]

A C-27J during "Giornata Azzurra 2007"

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.[8] 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.[10] At this time, the U.S. Army had requirement for up to 75 aircraft in the Army National Guard; the Air Force had a requirement for up to 70 aircraft in the Air Force Special Operations Command and the Air National Guard.[8]

On 22 June 2007, Raytheon formally protested the award of the JCA contract to the Alenia C-27J.[11] 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.[12] Prior to Raytheon's protest, the first C-27J aircraft were to begin delivery to the joint U.S. Army-Air Force test and training program in June 2008.[13] The first flight of a U.S. C-27J occurred on 17 June 2008.[14]

Romania ordered seven C-27Js for delivery from 2008 to replace Antonov An-24 and Antonov An-26 aircraft, beating the EADS CASA C-295.[15] However, the order was blocked by the government in February 2007 upon a legal challenge filed by EADS.[16] In June 2007, the order was confirmed again when the Romanian court rejected EADS' complaint.[17] The Romanian government officially signed the contract for the delivery of seven C-27Js on 7 December 2007,[18] with the first two Spartans delivered on 12 April 2010.[19]

As of 2015, orders stand at Italy (12), Greece (12), Bulgaria (3), Lithuania (3), Morocco (4), Romania (7), Mexico (4) and United States (38).[18][20][21][22]

Operational history

Italy received its first C-27J in October 2006.[23] The Italian Air Force deployed two C-27Js to Afghanistan from 12 September 2008 to 27 January 2009 in support NATO airlift operations.[24][25]

Italian Air Force C-27J

In March 2011, the Bulgarian Air Force received its last of three C-27Js ordered. Bulgaria had initially ordered five in 2006, but reduced its order in 2010.[26][27][28]

The United States received its first C-27J on 25 September 2008.[29] In September 2008, the C-27J Schoolhouse, operated by L-3 Link, officially began classes at the Georgia Army National Guard Flight Facility, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. By April 2009, the U.S. Army had accepted deliveries of two aircraft and had 11 more on order.[30] A proposal in May 2009 that the U.S. Army/Army National Guard relinquish all of its aircraft to the U.S. Air Force, primarily the Air National Guard, with a reduction of the total buy to 38 aircraft,[31] led the DoD to give total control of the US's C-27Js to the USAF in December.[22] Although the initial plan was for the C-27J to be operated by the Air National Guard for direct support of the United States Army, that changed to both Army National Guard and Air National Guard flight crews to support the fielding of the aircraft. The U.S. Air National Guard had received four C-27Js by July 2010 and began using them for testing and training. Purchase of 38 Spartans is anticipated with initial operational capability expected in October 2010.[32] The U.S. Air Force had planned the C-27J's first combat deployment for summer 2011.[33] In August 2011, two C-27J aircraft flown by Air National Guard personnel with Army National Guard personnel began operations at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan.[34][35][36] From August to December 2011, the C-27Js of the 179th Airlift Wing transported some 400 tons of cargo, and over 6,900 passengers in more than 900 missions.[3] By exercising tactical control of the C-27Js, the U.S. Army was able to employ helicopters in a much more efficient fashion, splitting missions between the two platforms to make best use of the strengths of each.[37]

The U.S. Army had indicated that a fleet of 54 aircraft posed a moderate risk to mission fulfillment in 2005; the USAF has moved to cancel the program entirely in early 2012.[38] On 26 January 2012, the U.S. Department of Defense announced plans to remove all 38 C-27Js on order from the U.S. Air Force's inventory as their niche capabilities are too expensive.[39] The C-27J's duties are to be taken by the U.S. Air Force's C-130s.[40] In February 2012, Alenia warned that it would not provide support for C-27Js resold by the United States.[41] In March 2012, it was reported that the U.S. Coast Guard is considering taking over the aircraft from the U.S. Air Force.[42] On 23 March 2012, the U.S. Air Force announced that it will cut the C-27J from its inventory in fiscal year 2013 after determining that its per-aircraft lifecycle costs are higher than those of C-130 aircraft performing the same combat resupply mission.[43][44]

C-27J with prop vortices condensation at the Paris Air Show

As of April 2012, the USAF was continuing to shut down the program, in anticipation that Congress will support its budget request to do so.[45] In July 2012 the entire fleet was grounded due to a flight control system failure.[46] By 2013 newly built C-27Js were being sent directly to the Davis–Monthan Air Force Base boneyard.[47] This was to make room for C-130s, as the USAF found itself with too many tactical transports.[48] The Air Force has spent $567 million on 21 C-27Js since 2007, with 16 delivered by the end of September 2013. 12 have already been taken out of service and sent to "the Boneyard," with five more to be built by April 2014, all of which are headed to the boneyard unless another use for them is found. The five under construction are too near completion to simply halt building. Sequestration budget cuts caused the Air Force to want to divest the aircraft, with a C-27J costing $308 million over its lifespan, in comparison with a C-130's $213 million 25-year lifespan cost.[49]

In November 2012, the C-27J deployed for its first domestic United States mission as part of the Hurricane Sandy relief effort.[50]

Possible sales

The Royal Australian Air Force has made a Foreign Military Sales request for 10 C-27Js light air lifters valued up to US$950m to replace its retired DHC-4 Caribou fleet.[51][52] One advantage identified by the RAAF over the rival C-295, is the C-27J's wider and taller cabin that makes it compatible with the Australian Army's general purpose G-Wagon vehicle[53] and palletized goods.[54] 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 air fleet; this contract was worth approximately C$3 billion in January 2007.[55]

Slovakia's air force has selected the C-27J and is negotiating an order for at least two aircraft.[56] Ghana requested the possible Foreign Military Sale of four C-27Js in September 2009,[57] but purchased another aircraft instead.[58]

The Indian Air Force has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for 16 medium military transport aircraft. Alenia Aeronautica responded with information about the C-27J.[59]

On 21 August 2009, Taiwan announced that it had entered price negotiations with Alenia Aeronautica for the sale of six C-27J Spartan aircraft.[60] Indonesia is considering the purchase of the C-27J as of March 2011.[61] The C-27J has been shortlisted as a candidate for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) medium lift aircraft program. A joint team from the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) and PAF inspected the C-27J in January 2012.[62] The DND already received approval from the Philippine president to purchase 3 units, and is awaiting congressional approval as of November 2012.[63]

In June 2013, the Peruvian Air Force began negotiations to acquire four C-27J aircraft for $200 million. Future purchases may increase the total to 12 Spartans.[64] The C-27J is part of a competition that includes the EADS CASA C-295, the Antonov An-70, the upgraded Antonov An-32, and the Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules.[65]

In July 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard was considered acquiring up to 14 of the 21 decommissioned Air Force C-27J Spartans. Transferring the aircraft and cancelling the remaining orders for the HC-144 Ocean Sentry while retaining those already delivered, would save the service $500–$800 million. The Spartans would be converted for search-and-rescue missions. EADS pointed out that the HC-144 costs half as much as the C-27J to maintain and operate. The U.S. Forest Service wants 7 former Air Force C-27Js for firefighting activities.[66] The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), has also shown interest in acquiring ex-Air Force C-27Js. If the C-27Js stay in the Defense Department, they can go to SOCOM or the Coast Guard. If the DoD determines it cannot afford the aircraft, they can go to the Forest Service. The Coast Guard wants all 21 Spartans, and the Forest Service has asked for 7 C-27Js, and C-130Js, to use as aerial tankers.[67] SOCOM will receive 7 C-27Js to replace its fleet of CASA 212 aircraft for training.[68]


A C-27J in a banked turn

AC-27J Stinger II

The AC-27J was a proposed gunship for the U.S. Air Force. In 2008, US$32 million was reallocated to purchase a C-27J for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, to fulfill the requirements that AFSOC had defined under the AC-XX concept, a replacement for the aging and extensively used Lockheed AC-130s.[69] The AC-27J was to be equipped using proven hardware and systems to reduce risk.[69][70][71] AFSOC planned to acquire 16 aircraft, the first gunship in 2011 and two more per year from 2012 to 2015.

The AC-27J was to serve as a multi-mission platform, equipped with full-motion cameras and outfitted to support covert infiltration missions as well as providing armed support for ground forces, armed with either a 30-millimeter or 40-millimeter gun or precision-guided munitions such as the Viper Strike bomb.[72] At the Air Force Association's 2008 conference, it was reported that the AC-27J variant would be named "Stinger II" after the AC-119K Stinger.[69][73]

C-27A 90-0170 (c/n 4097) was removed from storage at AMARC in October 2008 and delivered to Eglin AFB, Florida, for use by the Air Force Research Laboratory to test the feasibility of mounting of 30 mm and 40 mm guns. In May 2009, the program was put on hold because U.S. Army funding for 40 C-27s in an Army-Air Force cooperative purchase was removed from the fiscal 2010 budget.[74] U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command will retain the C-130 to meet its stated need for gunships.[75][76]


The MC-27J is a development of the C-27J for multi-mission purposes, including command and control, communications, and operations as an armed gunship. In the gunship role, the MC-27J can integrate Hellfire missiles and precision-guided munitions, as well as an optionally-equipped 30 mm gun can be installed and rapidly uninstalled when not required. It features systems to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, as well as a defensive aids suite.[77] In July 2012, Alenia Aermacchi announced its intention to offer an upgrade program for existing C-27Js to the MC-27J configuration in the future.[78] The MC-27J is being developed as an Alenia-ATK private venture.

EC-27 "Jedi"

In 2010, the Italian Air Force announced the development of an electronic warfare package for its C-27 fleet under the jamming and electronic defence instrumentation (Jedi) program. One publicised ability of the aircraft is the disruption of radio communications and, in particular, remote detonators commonly used on improvised explosive devices (IEDs).[79] The EC-27 has been compared to the capabilities of the USAF's Lockheed EC-130H Compass Call.[80]


World operators of the C-27J Spartan

Lithuanian Air Force C-27J Spartan with an aerial refueling probe.

Bulgarian Air Force C-27J

Romanian Air Force C-27J at Otopeni Air Show 2010.

Royal Moroccan Air Force C-27J

  • Hellenic Air Force has eight C-27J aircraft in use as of January 2012[82] with the 354th TTS "Pegasus" (112th Combat Wing - Air Force Support Command)
  • Italian Air Force has 12 aircraft in operation as of January 2012.[82] with 46th Air Brigade (Operational Forces Command)
  • Romanian Air Force has six C-27Js in service as of October 2013.[85] It ordered seven aircraft with deliveries to completed in 2014.[85] The aircraft operate with the 902nd Transport and Reconnaissance Squadron of the 90th Airlift Flotilla.
United States

Specifications (C-27J)

Data from Alenia Aeronautica,[87] C-27J facts[88]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Minimum two: pilot, co-pilot, (plus loadmaster when needed)
  • Capacity: 60 troops or 46 paratroops or 36 litters with 6 medical personnel
  • Payload: 11,500 kg (25,353 lb)
  • Length: 22.7 m (74 ft 6 in)
  • Wingspan: 28.7 m (94 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 9.64 m (31 ft 8 in)
  • Wing area: 82 m2 (880 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 17,000 kg (37,479 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 30,500 kg (67,241 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce AE2100-D2A turboprop, 3,460 kW (4,640 hp) each
  • Propellers: 6-bladed Dowty Propeller 391/6-132-F/10, 4.15 m (13 ft 7 in) diameter


  • Maximum speed: 602 km/h (374 mph; 325 kn)
  • Cruising speed: 583 km/h (362 mph; 315 kn)
  • Minimum control speed: 194 km/h; 121 mph (105 kn)
  • Range: 1,852 km (1,151 mi; 1,000 nmi) with 10,000 kilograms (22,000 lb) payload
  • Range at 6,000 kg payload: 4,260 km (2,650 mi; 2,300 nmi)
  • Ferry range: 5,926 km (3,682 mi; 3,200 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 9,144 m (30,000 ft)

See also



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  9. "New Cargo Planes To Be Built in Cecil Field.", 14 June 2007.
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  • Eden, Paul, ed. "Alenia G222 and C-27, Mini-Hercules". Encyclopedia of Modern Military Aircraft. London: Amber Books, 2004. ISBN 1-904687-84-9.

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