Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems (LMATTS) has launched the C-27J Spartan, a substantial update of the Italian G222 intra-theater transport aircraft.

The basic confiÌguration of the C-27J has been finalised, and LMATTS has begun announcing subcontractors. Where possible, the C-27J uses technology from the larger Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules 2. As a result, Allison AE2100D2 engines powering Dowty six-bladed propellers are to be used alongside Honeywell avionics and a new "glass" cockpit.

Lockheed Martin's involvement in the programme largely stems from the US company's bid to sell its C-130J to the Italian air force. The go-ahead for the smaller C-27J was meant to be contingent on the order for the bigger aircraft and, although talks on that deal continue, LMATTS has opted to proceed with the Spartan because of unexpected market interest.

The joint-venture company, set up by Lockheed Martin and Alenia in 1996, expects to be able to deliver the first aircraft during 2000. The market potential is put at 200 aircraft, with an offer to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) possibly leading the way - the RAAF has already ordered the C-130J. The US armed forces could also be a large customer for the aircraft as they already operate the earlier C-27A version.

The aircraft will have a maximum payload of around 9.2t, while its range will be more than 2,000km (1,100nm).

Source: Flight International