RAAF C-27J deploys to New Zealand for first international exercise

C-27J Spartan at RNZAF Base Ohakea. (Defence)

The Royal Australian Air Force’s 35 Squadron has deployed a C-27J Spartan to participate in a major international exercise for the first time since the battlefield airlifter was brought into serviced.

The aircraft was deployed to New Zealand to provide an air mobility capability for Exercise Southern Katipo 2017, which is the New Zealand Defence Force’s largest combined and joint exercise.

The C-27J has transported more than 200 troops with their equipment and 11,000 pounds of cargo into the exercise area since October 18, including soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines from Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, Timor-Leste, the US, New Zealand and Australia.

Flight Lieutenant Jason Meyers, 35 Squadron C-27J detachment commander, said that deploying for the exercise has demonstrated the progress made by the squadron towards getting the new type fully operational.

“Our participation in Exercise Southern Katipo 2017 represents a massive leap forward for 35 Squadron, demonstrating our ability to operate the C-27J Spartan in support of military operations, not just in Australia but also abroad,” he said.

As well as transporting personnel and equipment to Royal New Zealand Air Force bases, the Spartan crew has been conducting airdrops to help resupply troops in the field.

The RAAF has also deployed a KA350 King Air and air load teams to support the exercise’s Air Task Group, with a C-130J Hercules supporting the deployment of personnel from Australia.

Exercise Southern Katipo 2017 runs until mid-November.


  1. Ricahrd says

    The RNZAF ought to consider purchasing the C-27 to supplement the C-130

    Help put the “Force” Back into Royal New Zealand Air Force

  2. PAUL says

    This will be a good chance for the RNZAF to evaluate the C27 as it could be a candidate to replace the Kingair’s operated by 42sqn who used to operate Andovers.

  3. ngatimozart says

    The Spartan (or C295) won’t replace the 42 Sqn Kingairs because the Spartans and Kingairs have different capability sets. In RNZAF service the Kingairs are used for VIP work, Multi Engine Pilot Training and Air Combat Officer training, plus any other taskings. The Aircrew Training Capability RFT stated that two of the Kingairs are to be fitted with a maritime radar, E/O turret and a console each for the instructor and the student. The RFT said that the plan is to have modular sensors and consoles so that they can be moved between airframes. Part of the plan is for the Kingairs to undertake EEZ monitoring separately from and also as part of the ACO training regime.

    To be honest it is somewhat doubtful if a Battlefield Airlifter such as the C-27J or C295 / CN235 will be acquired for the RNZAF because that particular capability is no longer in NZDFs best interest. If they want something below the level of C-130 capability / capacity, then IMHO the CH-47 Chinook would be a better option because it would add more value for money. Having said that the Future Air Mobility Capability RFI specifically excluded rotary wing options. However since that RFI was promulgated a change of govt has occurred and the new govt may change some of the criteria.

  4. Mick181 says

    Same as Australia, Defence here nearly always does better under a Coaltion Government. Great example 6 years of Labour from 07-13 saw not a single ship ordered for the Navy except for the 2nd hand Choules and that was a bargain. Watch what happens to the DWP plans if Labour ends up in power after the next Election.

  5. Raymond says

    The Labour party didn’t offer a defense policy for the September election, and the Greens expressed a preference for peace-keeping and disaster relief. NZ First promised to “return offensive capabilities to the Royal New Zealand Air Force and enhance offensive capabilities of the Army and Navy,“ including a cyberwarfare unit.

    Will be interesting to see which holds sway when it comes to the NZDF.

  6. Fabian says

    if you want to put the “force” back in royal new Zealand air force, then its not battle airlifters needed its fighter jets. but we all know that not gonna happen for while.

  7. Dave Boleropilot says

    saw my first sighting of a RAAF C27 into YAMB just the other day – ran outside to see what it was (yeah, I know, tragic…) because it sounded so different…last time I saw one (at Avalon) it was upside down…

    looking forward to seeing more of them when they move in down the road at Amberley


  8. AlanH says

    I think the Kiwis are (… were, pre-Jacinda) more interested in replacing their C-130s with something like the Embraer KC-390 rather than downsizing to a battlefield airlifter like the C-27 Spartan, good as it is. The Embraer is larger, faster and has greater range which would suit all their needs in one type, such as in patrolling their vast territorial waters.

  9. ESLowe says

    …..but I though the Kiwis were interested in the Brazilian Embraer KC-390 as cover all replacement for the Orions, C130 and B757 types?

  10. Robert says

    A bit soon to know the direction the new government in NZ will go with Defence spending, Labour had their eyes on the 20 Billion from the 2016 White Paper for other purposes but to get the coalition agreement with NZ First they have had to agree to having a NZ First member, Mr Ron Mark, as the Minister of Defence.
    Now NZ First are seen as been more pro Defence than Labour, they even have talked about restoring a strike capability to the RNZAF.

    Ron Mark has already talked about the White Paper in that he was concerned about the type of expenditure and agreements entered into by the previous government so he wants to “run a ruler over it, stay within the agreed budget, but seek to get better quality decisions”.

    So maybe not gloom and doom

  11. Keith says

    The nz Labour party has a track record for cutting defence. They wanted to close Whenuapai air base last time they were in and retired our two fighter squadrons. One Labour party member said that we don’t need an air force as another world war would never happen again. He said that in 1937. Lets hope New Zealand first keeps the Labour party in some state of reality instead of a dream world they seem to be in now.

  12. PAUL says

    The USAF has also bought the C27J. I wonder if it will buy the A400M to fill any gaps, or enhance capability since a lot of C17 operators were impressed with the newer technology in the A400…

  13. Mick181 says

    Paul i doubt the US will look at the A400, i think they will continue to continue to buy C-130Js and work towards a possible replacement in the 2030s.

  14. Sam Fulton says

    Apparently a proposal goes to the NZ MOD very soon in regards to a C-130 replacement but don’t hold your breath. Given we have now a Labour government (their previous track record for the RNZAF is the axing of A-4 Skyhawk strike wing) mixed in with the deluded Green Party then the RNZAF might end up with a bunch of Cessna 180’s!!

    National had an impressive amount of $ for Defence but frankly I am really worried. Ron Mark is the new minster for Defence and he has been a long advocate of the C-130J but I think the RNZAF should be going for the KC390. Faster, bigger load capacity, fly by wire and looks a superb aircraft.