RAAF C-27J Spartan reaches initial operating capability

Members of 35 Squadron on the flightline at RAAF Base Richmond. (Defence)
Members of 35 Squadron on the flightline at RAAF Base Richmond. (Defence)

Australia’s C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter has achieved initial operating capability (IOC), Minister for Defence Senator Marise Payne announced on Friday.

“The Spartan can access airfields that are unable to support larger transport aircraft, thus increasing the reach for Defence when supporting communities across Australia and throughout the Asia Pacific region,” Minister Payne said in a statement.

“The Spartan can now be tasked on missions to transport 40 passengers or three military pallets of cargo, as well as fulfil roles such as light equipment airdrop.”

To date, Air Force has received four of the 10 C-27J Spartans Australia has on order. The aircraft are operated by 35 Squadron out of RAAF Base Richmond while facilities at their permanent home at RAAF Base Amberley are being built.

The delivery of the fourth C-27J took place on December 7, when A34-005 landed in Australia after its delivery flight from the US.

The C-27J has been designated as a replacement aircraft for the Caribou, which was retired in 2009, with the first RAAF C-27J arriving at RAAF Base Richmond in June 2015.

Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies described the C-27J Spartan as the missing piece in Australia’s air mobility matrix.

“The arrival of the Spartan will greatly increase the mobility and flexibility for local commanders, allowing intra-theatre airlift that will bridge C-130J Hercules and CH-47 Chinook options,” AIRMSHL Davies said.

Final operational capability (FOC) was expected to occur in December 2017 and coincide with the relocation of 35SQN to Amberley, where Air Mobility Group’s C-17s and KC-30s are based, Defence has said previously.

One RAAF C-27J Spartan blew out two tyres during a night time pilot training flight at Waco, Texas on May 18, causing the temporary closure of the airport while the aircraft was inspected and removed from the runway.

The C-27J is built by Italy’s Leonardo (formerly Alenia Aermacchi) and is powered by two Rolls-Royce AE2100-D2A turboprops. The aircraft is being acquired from prime contractor L3 Communications via a US Government Foreign Military Sales deal.

The flight deck of the RAAF's first C-27J A34-001.
The flightdeck of the RAAF’s first C-27J, A34-001. (Jordan Chong)
Inside the RAAF's first C-27J, A34-001.
Inside the RAAF’s first C-27J, A34-001. (Jordan Chong)

Comments

  1. Allan says

    Good to see the milestone achieved. I wonder if the C-27 is able to access the airfields the Caribou used to use. The Caribou used to get into airfields that warrior and cessna pilots would baulk at.

  2. Derrick says

    Better late then never. We should have gotten the inflight refueling probe attached when out of the factory instead of a after thought, same as the C-130J….

  3. Peter says

    in flight refuelling probe+system is an available option it requires some work of course! RAAF didnt ask it. A very useful mod is to introduce winglet improving Hot&High performance 2000 lbs of payload increase at same condition

  4. Mike says

    Maybe we should also look at the MC-27J being developed for the Italian Air Force for fire support.

  5. Andy says

    What a beautiful functional airplane,

    Real good replacement for the Caribou

    Best investment for the RAAF C-27J a go any where, . . do almost every thing … Spartans Rules the Skies !

  6. ESLowe says

    I was surprised to learn how large the RAAF fleet actually is: at 10..The Italian Air Force fleet consists of “only” 12 and the US Coast Guard, has 14…with a few odds and sods in other countries.
    So the RAAF order is actually quite large. for the manufacturer.

  7. Harry says

    Would’ve been larger but they lost the contract for Canada which went for the C-295 instead, even the the RCAF wanted the Spartans, or so Ive heard.

  8. rpaps5 says

    anyone know if 004 is being used as the training airframe at L-3, pending repair and delivery to RAAF?

  9. rpaps5 says

    Would have made sense to order refuelling probe as part of manufacture. Even though they are intended for short range tactical missions, you have to get them from Amberley (after FOC) to wherever they are needed which could be very long distance.

  10. Raymond says

    Trash Hauler:

    1. The C-27J is very capable and far from being anything like a lemon

    2. Plans to acquire additional C-130J aircraft were cancelled when the RAAF procured the C-17A

    Merry Christmas.