Australia has announced plans for the long-awaited replacement of the de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou aircraft that were retired in 2009, with the Alenia Aeronautica C-27J apparently favoured for the requirement.
Under Australia's Air 8000 Phase 2 programme, the country will obtain up to 10 battlefield airlifters to replace the Caribous, the Department of Defence said.
"The government has authorised [the Department of] Defence to issue a non-binding/no-commitment letter of request seeking price and availability information on the C-27J," said the DoD. "The letter of request does not involve any financial or contractual commitment on Australia to acquire the aircraft."
"Future government consideration of this project will involve other aircraft which could meet Australia's need. This includes the Airbus Military C-295."
© Australian DoD
The Royal Australian Air Force retired its last Caribous in 2009
The DoD anticipates a response to its letter by February 2012, but adds that it has yet to determine acquisition schedules.
On 19 October, minister for defence materiel Jason Clare said DoD analysis had determined that the C-27J is the best aircraft for Air 8000 Phase 2, and that Australia issued the letter of request owing to the pending closure of the C-27J production line.
After receiving responses, the DoD will determine its acquisition strategy for the requirement, including whether or not to pursue a tender process.