Alenia Aeronautica has signed a new contract for four C-27J Spartan tactical transports to be delivered to a non-NATO Mediterranean country, according to Italian industry sources. The deal has been indicated as worth around €130 million ($191 million), with this total expected to include training and logistics support services.
No delivery period have been revealed. In recent years the C-27J has attracted interest from or been offered to several non-NATO nations in the southern Mediterranean region, including Egypt, Israel, Libya and Tunisia. Israel evaluated the type, but appears to have instead opted to purchase Lockheed Martin's larger C-130J, while Egypt was also shown the aircraft, but has taken no clear steps to acquire it. Both nations would be likely to have requested a Spartan purchase via the US Foreign Military Sales channel, but no evidence of such a move has been seen.
One possible clue to the customer's identity could come from Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's recent visit to Libya, and the bilateral friendship and co-operation treaty signed in September. The Finmeccanica group has also over the recent years signed similar agreements, leading to the establishment of joint ventures and new sales including of AgustaWestland A109E Power helicopters and ATR 42MP maritime patrol aircraft, plus an Alenia Aermacchi deal to upgrade Libyan air force SF-260 basic trainers.
The north African country also during the 1980s received 20 G-222T transports. It recently opted against upgrading the fleet, instead evaluating refurbished ex-Italian air force G-222s and the new C-27J. Alenia Aeronautica declines to comment on the reported sale.
Tunisia also has a requirement for new transport aircraft, and has in the past received surplus G-222s from Italy. Algeria and Morocco respectively operate the EADS Casa CN-235 and C-295.