Romania to use C-27Js in Afghanistan next year

Bucharest
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Romania's air force has accepted its first two Alenia Aeronautica C-27J Spartan tactical transports for training use, and expects the type to begin supporting international operations from early next year.

Delivered to the service's 90th Air Transport Base at Bucharest Otopeni airport on 12 April, the aircraft had first undergone a two-week period of pre-acceptance testing conducted by Romanian personnel in Italy.

Bucharest's 2007 contract covers the delivery of seven aircraft and a simulator, plus logistics support and personnel training for air crew, ground personnel and technicians.

Two three-person crews will achieve initial operational capability status for transport duties within around a month, with at least 10 crews to eventually be trained on the type, which will replace the air force's Antonov An-26s.

 
© Luca Peruzzi
Romania's new C-27Js will replace its aged An-26s (pictured in the background)

"One more aircraft will be delivered in 2010, followed by another two in 2011 and the last two in 2012," says Giuseppe Giordo, co-chief operating officer of Alenia Aeronautica.

Romania's defence ministry says it will complete payments on the first two aircraft after they have been brought up to a full operational configuration. This will include the installation of ballistic protection and a defensive aids subsystem including laser, missile and radar warning receivers and chaff and flare dispensers.

Air force chief of staff Maj Gen Ion-Aurel Stanciu says the new aircraft will support ground and flight training activities for the next few months, "so that no later than April next year, our aircrews will be able to accomplish specific missions in the Balkans and Afghanistan."

Romania's current An-26s and Lockheed Martin C-130B/Hs flew 80 strategic transport missions to the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan last year, moving more than 4,200 soldiers and 600t of supplies, he says.