Alenia Aeronautica and Lockheed Martin, partners on the C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft, are looking at the possibility of Rolls-Royce taking over programme responsibility for the aircraft's complete propulsion system - engine, nacelle and propellers - from Lockheed Martin.

The C-27J's manufacturers are also seeking price reductions from the engine manufacturer on the aircraft's Rolls-Royce Allison AE 2100-D2 powerplants.


Alenia has been conducting a major cost reduction exercise on the C-27J over the past two years, following suggestions that it had won the technical arguments in several international bidding contests, only to lose out on costs.

At a briefing at the show yesterday, Alenia senior vice-president Carmelo Consentino, said a 20% reduction in the aircraft's basic price, to around $24 million, had been achieved through internal efforts at Alenia.

"We are also now in talks with Rolls-Royce to invite the propulsion system suppliers to help us in this cost reduction campaign."

Alenia is looking for a possible 10% reduction in the cost of the aircraft's propulsion system.

He adds that the talks include looking at the possibility of Rolls-Royce taking on "a different relationship" with the C-27J programme.

He does not rule out the UK-based engine manufacturer taking on responsibility for the whole propulsion system - whose nacelles are made by GKN Westland, and propellers by Dowty - or of it becoming a partner in the programme.

A Rolls-Royce spokesman commented: "We continue to look at a number of total propulsion system opportunities using our expertise as a systems integrator rather than a pure supplier of engines. C-27J is one of those activities that is currently being developed."

Earlier, Consentino had been at pains to dispel any suggestion that a recent co-operation agreement between Alenia's parent company Finmeccanica and Boeing could harm Alenia's relationship with Lockheed Martin. There is "no overlap" in programmes, he says.

Both Consentino and Ted Samples, Lockheed Martin vice-president, special mission and reconnaissance aircraft programmes, express confidence that the C-27J will supplant the existing Shorts C-23 Sherpa in US Army National Guard service, which could see more than 40 aircraft being ordered.


The complicating factor is that funding for Army National Guard aircraft comes from individual US states, each of which has to ask permission from Washington to buy.

However, Samples believes that "the next year or two" will see "significant movements" among the nine states that currently use the C-23, with Alaska, Georgia and Florida among the front-runners for the larger C-27J.


Source: Flight Daily News