Alenia pitches C-27J at new campaigns

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Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica is eyeing new customers for the C-27J Spartan tactical transport, following the Bulgarian defence ministry’s signature late last month of a €91 million ($108 million) contract to acquire five of the aircraft for delivery from June 2007.

Sofia in April 2005 announced its selection of eight C-27Js to replace its air force Antonov An-26 fleet, but a lack of funds has forced its defence ministry to cut this order to five plus three options. Aircraft will arrive at a rate of one a year until 2011, although defence minister Veselin Bliznakov says he hopes to find the necessary funding to complete the planned eight-aircraft purchase.

Meanwhile, Alenia expects Greece to confirm a three-aircraft option to its 12-strong C-27J deal by April, says chief executive Giovanni Bertolone. Italy’s first of 12 Spartans will also be delivered for acceptance trials by June, with the type to enter service from mid-2007. The company – which developed the C-27J with Lockheed Martin – also expects Finland to downselect to two platform types by mid-March for a transport contest, and says Lithuania will soon issue a request for proposals for three aircraft. Information on the C-27J has already been supplied to Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia, Alenia says.

Alenia is also proposing the C-27J for the expected merged US Army and Air Force cargo aircraft requirements through its Global Military Aircraft Systems joint venture with L-3 Communications. The US Department of Defense has a 2007-11 budget request to be approved by Congress for 33 army and 24 air force aircraft, with a vendor selection for the army’s first batch order expected by the end of this year and deliveries set to begin during 2007.