L-3 Communications and Alenia Aermacchi have again promised to fully support new C-27J airlifters if Australia chooses to purchase the aircraft through the US Foreign Military Sales program.
“L-3 and Alenia can assure the Commonwealth of Australia of complete through life support of the C-27J as part of a broad international user community,” the companies said in a statement. “More than 85 C-27Js have been ordered by air forces around the world, including Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco and Romania.”
The statement was the second time in a month that Alenia and L-3 have sought to tamp down concerns over support for the C-27J, which Australia is considering as a replacement for the Caribou transport under the Battlefield Airlifter requirement of project Air 8000 Phase 2. Those concerns stemmed from Alenia’s refusal to support any used C-27Js resold by the US, which has eliminated the program under Pentagon budget cuts. Alenia views the used C-27Js as competition to its efforts to sell new aircraft.
The RAAF is known to favour the C-27J over competitors like Airbus Military’s C295 due its larger cargo capacity and better short field performance, but questions over support have given Airbus an opening to launch a renewed push in favour of the C295. Another possibility seen as increasingly likely is that Australia could use the US cancellation of the C-27J as an impetus not to replace the Caribou, which was retired almost two years ago.
In their latest statement, Alenia and L-3 spruiked the benefits of the C-27J, saying it was the most capable aircraft in its class and would allow for the leveraging of common systems already in the RAAF’s inventory, such as the C-130.
Prior to the Pentagon’s cancellation of the program, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency in December flagged the possible FMS sale of 10 C-27Js to Australia for an estimated US$950 million.