Alenia plans to reduce the cost of the C-27J tactical transport by 30% as it struggles to compete against rival EADS Casa and its C295. The move follows the loss of a Swiss order to CASA late last year.

Alenia Aerospazio president Giorgio Zappa says: "In Switzerland we won the technical competition but CASA was cheaper by 30%." When it announced its decision last November to acquire two C295s, the Swiss defence ministry said the C-27J's transport and flight characteristics were superior, but the Spanish aircraft had lower acquisition and life cycle costs.

The C-27J has been developed with Lockheed Martin as part of an offset deal linked to an Italian air force C-130J Hercules purchase and has components in common with the larger transport, including the engine and some systems.

Zappa says the Lockheed Martin deal was to price the C-27J at half the cost of the Hercules, "but it is important to build cheaper".

Alenia is aiming for internal savings of around 14% this year and 9-10% in 2002.

Other savings could come by shifting work from Alenia factories in northern Italy to the south where overheads are lower. The workshare ratio between Lockheed Martin and Alenia could also be adjusted, says Zappa.

Military and civilian certification of the C-27J is planned for June, says Zappa. Competitions in Brazil, Greece, Malaysia and Poland are head-to-head battles between EADS and Alenia.

The latter predicts a market for 350 C-27J/C295-class transports over the next 20 years, although Zappa acknowledges that transport needs often come second to fighter procurement.

Source: Flight International