The C-27A Spartan was designed to meet Air Force requirements for a rugged, medium-size airland transport. The aircraft is particularly suited for short-to-medium range tactical operations into semi-prepared airfields as short as 1,800 feet (549m). The C-27A is an all-weather, day/night transport with capabilities to perform aeromedical evacuation missions. The Spartan has a cargo capacity of more than 2,000 cubic feet, or 12,000 pounds (5,443kg). The aircraft crew consists of a pilot, copilot and loadmaster.
The Spartan is modified from the G222 airframe manufactured in Naples, Italy, by Alenia, S.P.A. Chrysler Technologies Airborne Systems, Inc., as prime contractor, procured G222-710 aircraft from Alenia, and modified those aircraft by installing upgraded navigation, communication, and mission systems required for C-27A operation.
The Aeritalia Fiat G222 proposal was drawn up to meet the outlines of NATO's Basic Military Requirement Four (NBMR4) of 1962, which sought to develop a practical V/STOL transport for service with NATO air forces. Although a number of advanced proposals came from several manufacturers, none was deemed sufficiently practical or attractive to gain even a prototype contract. However, the Aeronautica Militare Italiana believed that Fiat's proposal could prove a useful transport, if finalized as a more conventional design in terms of powerplant and aerodynamics, and in 1968 signed a contract for two G222TCM prototypes and a static test airframe. Their manufacture was delayed by two successive total redesigns, and it was not until 18 July 1970 that the first prototype (MM582) was flown, the second (MM583) following on 22 July 1971. These began operational evaluation with the AMI on 21 December 1971, highly successful tests resulting in a contract for 44 production G222s, the first of them flown on 23 December 1975.
From the outset other major Italian manufacturers were involved in the program, with Aermacchi responsible for the outer wings, CIRSEA for the landing gear, Piaggio for the wing center-section, SlAI-Marchetti for the tail unit, and Aeritalia for the fuselage and for final assembly and testing. The G222 has been built in several versions. These include the G222 standard military transport which serves with the armed forces of Argentina, Dubai, Italy, Nigeria, Somalia and Venezuela; the G222R/M (Radio Misure) for radio/radar calibration; the G222SAA (Sistema Aeronautico Ant-incendio) fire-fighter with equipment to disperse water or fire retardants; the G222T (Rolls-Royce Tyne-powered version) for the Libyan Arab air force which designates it G222L; and the electronic warfare G222VS (Versione Speciale). Thailand also ordered six.
In August 1990, the USAF selected the Alenia (which took over Aeritalia) G222 as its Rapid-Response Intra-Theater Airlifter (RRITA) following extensive evaluation. The aircraft, designated C-27A Spartan, are procured from Alenia by Chrysler, the prime U.S. contractor, and modified for USAF operations with the installation of mission-specific communications, navigation and mission systems. An initial order for five aircraft led to a fleet of 10 C-27As, stationed at Howard AFB, Panama, to support U.S. Southern Command operations in Latin America. The aircraft did not prove popular in service and by 1999 all had been placed in storage.
Working together, Alenia and Lockheed Martin have developed a glass cockpit version fitted with AE 2100 turboprops and Dowty six-bladed propellers as the C-27J Spartan.
Launched in 1997, the C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft incorporates the same propulsion system and advanced avionics as the C-130J Hercules II. The first flight of the development aircraft was in September 1999, with full certification expected in 2001. The Italian Air Force has ordered 12 aircraft with deliveries between 2001-04.
Final assembly of the C-27J will be in Italy. Lockheed Martin will be responsible for the propulsion and avionics and will take lead responsibility for product support and worldwide marketing. Alenia Aerospazio takes responsibility for the certification process and for most of the manufacturing and flight testing operations.
The two-pilot cockpit is night vision goggle (NVG) compatible. The flight deck is very similar to that of the C-130J Hercules. The electronic flight instrumentation system (EFIS) incorporates five liquid crystal head-down color displays.
The Spartan is constructed with a floor strength equal to that of a C-130J and the large cargo cabin cross section is able to accommodate standard 463L pallets. Without modification, HMMWV (High Mobility Medium Wheeled Vehicle), AML-90, Perentie 6x6 armored vehicle, M113 armored personnel carrier or similar military vehicles can be driven on and off the Spartan via a hydraulically operated rear-loading ramp. The aircraft is constructed to off load vehicles quickly while taking fire. An upward opening door is installed in the underside rear fuselage which is used for airdrops of pallets or CDS (Container Delivery System) units.
The aircraft is pressurized and air-conditioned in the cockpit and cargo compartment. In the aeromedical evacuation role, the aircraft can carry 24 casualties on litters (stretchers) and 4 medical attendants. The cargo compartment is equipped with a dedicated aeromedical oxygen supply and 12 power centers for medical or auxiliary equipment.
For the paratroop role, the aircraft is equipped with door jump platforms and static lines and can carry up to 24 fully-equipped paratroops. Paratroop jumps can be carried out from the paratroop doors on both sides of the cargo compartment or from the cargo ramp and rear door. Standard passenger capacity is 34 ground troops.
The C-27J is equipped with two AE 2100D3 turboshaft engines supplied by Rolls Royce Defence North America (formerly Allison). The engines are rated at 5,000 shp. Messier-Dowty supply the six bladed composite propellers.
The aircraft’s propulsion system allows the C-27J to access a wide range of airfields including short unprepared strips in hot and high altitude conditions while transporting heavy loads. The Spartan can perform 3.0g tactical airlift operations under severe conditions. The navigation and night piloting systems allow the aircraft to fly just above tree height even at night.
The propulsion system provides an increase in aircraft range by 35 percent and cruise ceiling by 30 percent in comparison to the current C-27A (G222) tactical transporter configuration from Alenia.
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