Representatives of a joint venture of Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica and
Lockheed Martin Corp. are courting potential U.S. customers for the C-27J Spartan
tactical lift aircraft. The prime target buyers are the U.S. Coast Guard and
Air National Guard.
Alenia officials said they see a potential market of up to 100 aircraft—split
between the Coast Guard and the Air Guard.
Company representatives spoke with reporters in Washington, D.C., during a
flight demonstration of the C-27J, which was on a North American tour designed
to highlight the capabilities of the airplane for homeland security missions.
Alenia plans to compete with the EADS-CASA C-295 aircraft for future contracts
under the Coast Guard’s Deepwater program.
Alenia, based in Rome, is a subsidiary of Finmeccanica. The company teamed
with Lockheed Martin in 1997 to form a joint venture called Lockheed Martin
Alenia Tactical Transport Systems. Many of the features of Lockheed Martin’s
C-130J have been incorporated onto the C-27J.
Alenia’s senior vice president Pier Luigi Romagnoli said that the company
already has sold the aircraft to the Italian Air Force, as well as to the governments
of Portugal, Ireland, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. A contract with Greece
is pending. The first delivery of the Spartan will be in 2005, he said.
Some of the common features with the C-130J include the nose radar, the propulsion
and avionic systems, the cockpit layout and the wings. The C-27J was built to
be “interoperable and interchangeable” with the C-130J, said Romagnoli.
The C-27J was designed to airlift troops and cargo, as well as airdrop paratroopers
and equipment from 30,000 feet.
“There is also a humanitarian configuration, where we can install 36
bleachers,” which could transport 36 casualties with six attendants, said
G. Evangelisti, a C-27J test pilot.
The aircraft has a built-in cargo handling capability, variable altitude landing
gear, power-steered nose gear, an internal auxiliary power unit, and a backup
thrust capability, which can allow the aircraft to fly into remote areas. The
C-27J can take off and land in 300-meter runways.
Romagnoli said that the aircraft can carry 10 tons of cargo over distances
of 1,000 nautical miles, flying at speeds of up to 300 knots.
Alenia currently is participating in big-ticket military programs, such as
the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Tornado—a supersonic multi-role combat aircraft,
the AV 8B Harrier II Plus—a vertical take-off and landing fighter, the
AMX—a light combat aircraft and the Joint Strike Fighter.