Alenia Aermacchi has reached an agreement with its Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) programme partner L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, which will allow it to offer the C-27J Spartan directly to potential customers wishing to use Washington's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) mechanism.
"We have completely restructured our agreement with L-3, so now we have the right to deal directly with the US government on FMS," says Massimo Ghione, Alenia Aermacchi's vice general manager, marketing and sales.
Reached during October, the agreement will allow the Italian company to promote the tactical transport under either a direct commercial sale, or via its Alenia North America subsidiary. It could also continue to work with its JCA partner as contract lead if a future buyer requested this, says Ghione, who notes: "We want to serve our customer, as a prime or subcontractor. Now, we feel that we have more flexibility."
Alenia Aermacchi teamed up with L-3 for the JCA programme, which was initially expected to lead to the delivery of a combined 78 C-27Js to the US Air Force and US Army. The companies were last year notified of a decision to halt the acquisition after only 21 of a planned 38 transports had come under contract. The last four of these are now in final assembly at the European firm's Turin-Caselle site, with the last to be flown to L-3's completion centre in Waco, Texas, during 2013 for the integration of its US-specific communications and self-protection equipment.
L-3 will also be responsible for making similar adaptations to 10 Spartans for the Royal Australian Air Force, which ordered the type via the FMS system in May 2012. The fuselage for the service's first aircraft is due to arrive in Turin in late November from Capodichino near Naples, with service entry planned during 2015.
Alenia Aermacchi has also received a more recent order for the type from an undisclosed nation, with its current order book to support production activities until at least 2017. Further sales are being pursued in nations including Canada, India, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia and South Africa.