US company's status is downgraded to make room for L-3 Integrated Systems

Alenia has abruptly switched lead partners for an emerging proposal to offer the C-27J Spartan transport to the US Army, downgrading Lockheed Martin's status and signing up L-3 Integrated Systems (L-3 IS) to a new Global Military Aircraft Systems (GMAS) joint venture. The change follows signs that the Future Cargo Aircraft (FCA) programme will advance after overcoming US Air Force concerns about the army's plans to acquire a large fixed-wing fleet of medium airlifters.

The army included limited funds in its fiscal year 2006 budget request to launch an FCAcompetition for at least 30 aircraft, with the C-27J and EADS Casa's CN-235 or C-295 likely contenders. The initial requirement is to replace 43 Shorts C-23 Sherpas, but the army has discussed additional missions that could raise this requirement to almost 150 aircraft.

Lockheed had led C-27J marketing efforts to the US Army for several years, but is being downgraded from lead partner to "critical supplier". Alenia and L-3 IS will take a joint lead on the proposal, with the latter also agreeing to provide logistics support if the C-27J wins. Alenia says the shift is "based on our requirements for the future FCA programme. L-3 IS strengthens our team and our ability to win the contract." The GMA Spartnership could lead to the establishment of a C-27J mission system integration centre at an L-3 IS facility in the USA, although Alenia sites will also be deemed candidates.

Lockheed has expressed its continuing support for the C-27J, which it has marketed for several years as an adjunct to its larger C-130J transport, and says the change will not apply to the earlier Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems partnership on the C-27J.


Source: Flight International