The RAAF has accepted the first two of 10 C-27J Spartan tactical airlifters onto the Commonwealth register, and commenced maintenance training on the aircraft at L-3’s facility at Waco in Texas on December 8, and aircrew training with instructors from L-3 Communications on December 15.
The milestone is the latest in the RAAF’s effort to renew a tactical battlefield airlifter capability in Australia from mid-2015 with a re-established 35SQN at RAAF Richmond near Sydney.
It had been hoped to commence training on the aircraft in August, but the delay was incurred in part because of the transfer of the C-27J from the US Air National Guard to the US Army and Coast Guard and the closure of the ANG’s training centre in Georgia, and the subsequent need to establish a new industry-run training facility at Waco.
“The C-27J will integrate seamlessly with existing Defence transports such as Army’s CH-47 Chinooks and Air Force’s C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster III,” RAAF Director General Capability Planning (DGCP) AIRCDRE Mike Kitcher said in a statement.
Commander of Air Mobility Group AIRCDRE Warren McDonald added that the C-27J will be able to access airfields currently unsuitable for the larger C-17 and C-130. “Across the Asia Pacific region, there are numerous airfields which are too small or otherwise unsuitable for aircraft such as the C-130J. The C-27J will have the capacity to carry useful loads such as personnel or vehicles, and be capable of delivering loads on the ground or by airdrop.”
The first RAAF C-27J – A34-001 – entered Alenia Aermacchi’s Turin assembly line in December 2012 and first flew on December 18 2013. It was ferried to L-3 Com in Waco in March this year for fitment of the aircraft’s ballistic protection matting, EW/self-protection systems, and communications suite.