Alenia Aeronautica comes to Farnborough with the C-27J Spartan transport aircraft it produces with partners Lockheed Martin, waiting to hear whether its hopes of providing the aircraft to the US Army will meet US Air Force opposition at the Pentagon-level Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC). The council is due to report in early August.

In March, the Army Requirements Oversight Council was reported to have endorsed a requirements document calling for a new programme to buy new fixed-wing aircraft to replace the US National Guard's Shorts C-23 Sherpa fleet. This would also potentially provide an aircraft capable of moving supplies across hundreds of kilometres, easing the strain on the army's Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter fleet.

Inter-service sensitivities over this proposed Future Cargo Airplane (FCA) may be one reason why the army unveiled a proposal for only 25 cargo aircraft in late February, even though an initial draft of an army requirements document had cited a need for 128 new aircraft.

The army is seeking an aircraft sized between the C-23 and the Lockheed Martin C-130J, with the C-27J and the EADS Casa C-295 candidates for the role.

Giuseppe Giordo, Alenia's vice-president marketing and North American operations, says he does not believe there will be a major issue between the USAF and the army, partly because the initial quantity of aircraft being sought is relatively small, partly because he says the air force recognises that the army should have its own air mobility capability.

Giordo says a Request for Information was received from the army in March. He anticipates a Request for Proposals in spring 2005 and selection of a preferred aircraft by the end of next year.

Further north, meanwhile, he is bullish over Canada's plans to acquire a fixed-wing search and rescue (SAR) fleet of up to 15 aircraft to replace that country's ageing CC-130E/H Hercules and de Havilland Canada CC-115 Buffalos. Here, the C-27J is again competing with the EADS Casa C-295.

Giordo says he is optimistic over the C-27J's chances as the Canadian requirement emphasises aspects such as speed and range - areas where the C-27J is superior to the C-295, he says.

Meanwhile, talks are continuing with Rolls-Royce, he says, over the possibility of the engine manufacturer taking on responsibility for the C-27J's whole propulsion system - Rolls-Royce Allison AE 2100-D2 powerplants, nacelles and propellers.



Source: Flight Daily News