Alenia Aeronautica/L-3 Communications C-27J Spartans, operated by the US Air National Guard (ANG), have commenced combat operations in Afghanistan.

The first combat mission took place on 4 August from Kandahar airfield.

As part of the newly established 702nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron (EAS), Air Guard and Army National Guard personnel are jointly operating two C-27Js, which belong to the Ohio ANG's 164th Airlift Squadron, part of the 179th Airlift Wing, based in Mansfield. The unit previously used Lockheed Martin C-130s.

Alenia Aeronautica C-27J 
 © US Air Force

It is the operational debut for the new Joint Cargo Aircraft, which is designed to provide intra-theatre airlift capabilities. Its primary mission is to support coalition forces at forward operating bases with airlift and airdrop missions. The latter assignment comes from the US Army, and the aircraft are flown by both Air Guard and Army National Guard pilots and loadmasters.

The 702nd EAS began operations on 31 July.

The C-27J Spartans are equipped with a self-protection suite including radar, missile and laser warning systems and a chaff/flare dispensing system.

Source: Flight International