C-27J: The “Spartan” of transport planes

The transport aircraft, like the C-27J “Spartan”, are vital to almost any type of operations and an important tool at the disposal of any military. The C-27J has been one of the most successful and versatile planes of its category. 

The development of the C-27J Spartan

The development of the C-27J could be considered relatively recent. It started in 1995 when the Italian Alenia and the American Lockheed Martin held talks regarding the upgrade of the Italian company’s G.222 transport planes. This upgrade revolved around integrating as many systems as possible from the C-130Js into the G.222.

The two companies formed the Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems (LMATTS) as a joint venture to develop the C-27J. The upgrades included the replacing engines and installing the Rolls Royce AE 2100, the same ones that equip the C-130J. At the same time, digital instruments were installed while changes were also made to the cargo area.

C-27J: The "Spartan" of transport planes
Photo By Z3144228 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66271518

Aircraft versions

The C-27J design was not limited to just the transport role. There have been plans to allow the C-27 to undertake a wide range of missions, from direct fire support as a “gunship”, to surveillance and electronic warfare missions.

Versions of the C-27 include:

  • AC-27J Stinger II: One of the first special purpose versions of the aircraft. It was developed with the aim of winning the US Air Force contract for 16 armed aircraft. The AC-27J design included the installation of E/O devices, 30 or 40mm guns and guided missiles. The bid failed with the Air Force opting for a version of the C-130 instead.
  • HC-27J: Version of the aircraft for the needs of the US Coast Guard with the aim of undertaking surveillance, search and rescue missions, etc. The contract included 14 aircraft.
  • MC-27J: Aircraft design with the goal of being able to undertake almost any type of mission by changing the mission package accordingly. This may include, C3-ISR equipment, transport of personnel or cargo as well as armament. The Italian Air Force has placed an order for a number MC-27J “Praetorian”.
  • EC-27 “Jedi”: Specialized electronic warfare version of the aircraft. At least two aircraft of the type are in service in Italy and it is believed to be capable of jamming frequencies used to control drones or even frequencies used by detonators of improvised explosive devices. Finally, it is worth noting that a more modern electronic warfare suite is under development to equip the EC-27s called “JEDI II”.
C-27J: The "Spartan" of transport planes
Photo By Airwolfhound from Hertfordshire, UK – MC27J Spartan – RIAT 2013, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33683274

Technical characteristics of C-27J “Spartan”

Crew: 2-3 people.
Transport capacity: 60 soldiers or 40 paratroopers, 36 stretchers and 6 medics (MEDEVAC), 11.3-11.5 tons of cargo in the form of pallets, vehicles and can parachute a total volume of 9 tons in the form of 3 HCU -6E (108X88 inch) or 6 HCU-12E (54X88 inch) airdrop pallets or 6 A22 CDS cargo drop bags.
Length: 22.7 meters.
Wingspan: 28.7 meters.
Engines: 2 Rolls Royce AE 2100.
Speed: 602 km per hour
Maximum altitude: 9,150 meters or 30,000 feet.
Autonomy: 1,760 kilometers with a full load.

C-27J: The "Spartan" of transport planes
Photo By Eduard Marmet – https://www.flickr.com/photos/143134673@N07/49823335312/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90542794


Users of the aircraft include: Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, Chad, Italy, Kenya, Lithuania, Morocco, Mexico, Peru, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, USA, Turkmenistan and Zambia. As of 2022, 117 C-27J of all versions have been built.

Seeing this long list of user countries, one can easily understand that the C-27J Spartan is a “best seller” in the field of transport aircraft.

Tell us what you think in the comments!
For more articles by Bill K.
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