The Romanian defence ministry has been forced to halt an order for seven Alenia C-27J Spartan tactical transports, after an appeal into the decision by rival manufacturer EADS Casa was upheld.

Romania's National Council for Disputes Settlement (CNSC) ordered the move after investigating claims into an alleged infringement of the non-discrimination, fairness and transparency principles in public procurement and orders.

Worth around €220 million ($286 million), the C-27J deal was announced late last year, following an evaluation of the type against EADS Casa's C-295 twin-turboprop to replace the Romanian air force's Antonov An-26s.

The rejected company claimed its offer was €12 million cheaper than the Alenia bid.

Romanian press reports last December hinted that the selection was likely to cause a dispute, as the public tender had been intended to select the lower-cost solution.

However, Romanian defence minister Iaon Ion defended the choice by stating that the EADS Casa bid had been rejected because the C-295 had failed to meet the technical requirements specified in a final request for proposals.

Alenia says the decision does not eliminate its prospect of success in supplying the C-27J to Romania, because the deal's suspension was caused by procedural problems during the preparation of the tender.

The technical parameters which led to the C-27J's selection remain fully valid, it claims, citing performance, interoperability and short take-off and landing capabilities.

Source: Flight International