Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems (LMATTS) has signed a new manufacturing contract with Australia's Hawker de Havilland, in its bid to establish closer industrial links ahead of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)AIR 5190 Light Tactical Airlift Capability requirement decision.

The contract is the latest move towards establishing an offset package for Australia, as part of LMATTS's C-27J Spartan proposal. The US-Italian consortium is competing against Spain's CASA, which is bidding for both the established CN-235 and the new, larger C-295 aircraft.


The RAAFis considering the aircraft as a potential replacement for its fleet of 14 ageing de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou transports.

According to LMATTS president and chief executive Cesare Gianni, the latest contract awards the production of rear door sub-assemblies for Spartan aircraft to Hawker de Havilland. "We have also been moving some commercial aircraft activities to Australia," says Gianni, explaining that Boeing 767 moving wing surfaces, hitherto built by Alenia Aerospazio, are being subcontracted to the ASTA factory, a division of Boeing Australia.

The latter would also take on technical and logistics support .

Gianni adds that LMATTS has "a long list" of other Australian partner companies in fields such as software support and computer-aided design, and that the C-27J bid exceeds the Australian offset requirement. This is understood to specify that at least 30% of the value of the contract should be offset by industrial benefits.

The LMATTS proposal, made in response to an Australian request for tender in August last year, covers 10 aircraft with five options. "We have been told that a decision is imminent, and may happen in April," says Gianni.

The C-27J is an enhanced version of the Alenia G.222/C-27A light airlifter, with a high degree of avionics and powerplant commonality with the Lockheed MartinC-130J Hercules, already in the RAAF inventory. The aircraft is to be powered by two Allison AE 2100 turboprops fitted with six-bladed Dowty composite propellers, and will feature a glass cockpit with a Honeywell avionics package.

"We will have the aircraft ready for delivery in 2001, after civil and military certification," says Gianni. On 10 February, Alenia signed an agreement with the Italian defence ministry, which commits the ministry to supporting certification to the military AERP2 standard.

LMATTS is planning to roll out the first of three C-27J test aircraft in June, aiming for an August first flight. Aircraft one, a modified company test aircraft, will be a propulsion system and flight controls test bed, to be upgraded later to full production standard.

Aircraft two will be the first production standard aircraft, and will have a new-build airframe. Aircraft three will be an upgraded Italian air force G.222, which will be delivered to the its experimental test centre for evaluation.

The Italian air force has over 40 G.222s, undergoing an avionics upgrade. Gianni says LMATTS will propose a full upgrade to C-27J standards "very soon".

Source: Flight International