The Australian government has given strong indications that it has selected the Alenia Aeronautica C-27J Spartan to fill its tactical transport requirements five years after the Italian company lost the Air 5190 light tactical airlifter project to EADS Casa’s C-295.
Senior sources within the defence department told flightglobal.com onboard a C-27J demonstration flight at the Australian International Air Show at Avalon airport in Melbourne, that a selection had already been made to replace the air force’s de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou transport aircraft and that the deal may not be subject to competition. Senior sources within Alenia confirm that the Italian company has been selected for the renamed Air 8000 phase 2 project, but that a formal announcement is not expected until after the Australian federal election and subsequent defence budget.
The C-295 was selected ahead of the C-27J as the Caribou replacement but the programme was cancelled due to budgetary constraints related to Australian deployment in Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor). Interoperability with US and UK air forces’ Lockheed Martin C-130Js is understood to be the defining factor in the reversal.
Alessandro Franzoni, Alenia senior vice president and head of the C-27J business unit says all capabilities have been demonstrated to the RAAF during the aircraft’s visit to Australia, which will include a technical stop at Townsville air force base, one of three bases earmarked for C-27J operation. “We wait for the programme to be officially launched but we expect a requirement to be around 12,” says Franzoni.