Any US decision to divest itself of the L-3 Communications C-27J Spartan will change the dynamics of Canberra's Air 8000 Phase 2 requirement for 10 battlefield airlifters. Australia is considering two aircraft for the requirement: Alenia Aeronautica's C-27J and the Airbus Military C-295.
"What the United States has announced in recent days has essentially been a decision to produce and purchase no more C-27s and to divest itself of its current capability," said Minister of Defence Stephen Smith.
© L-3 Communications
"That is obviously a very, very relevant material fact so far as our consideration of these two aircraft is concerned, and that is something that we are now giving exhaustive consideration to."
Smith was referring to a 26 January announcement by the US Department of Defense that will see the US Air Force divest the C-27J in addition to other major cuts.
On 31 October 2011, Australia announced plans for the long-awaited replacement of the de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou aircraft that were retired in 2009, with the C-27J apparently favoured for the requirement.
Two months later, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the possible sale of 10 C-27Js to Australia for $950 million by prime contractor L-3 Integrated Systems. Associated equipment would include 23 Rolls-Royce AE2100D2 engines, countermeasures equipment to be supplied by BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman, plus Northrop's APN-241 tactical transport radar, which offers a high resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping mode.