Alenia C-27J Spartan

Product Type:

Light Tactical Airlift Aircraft

Using Service (US):

Air Force (USAF)

Program Status:

Cancelled by the DoD in FY2012

Prime Contractors:

Airframe: Alenia Aeronautica (Finmeccanica)
Integration: L-3 Communications

The C-27J Spartan

About the C-27J Spartan:

The Alenia C-27J Spartan aka the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) is a twin-engine, light cargo, fixed-wing tactical airlift aircraft designed to provide intra-theater airlift. The aircraft was developed from the Alenia G.222 military transport aircraft (U.S. designation C-27A Spartan). The Spartan is powered by two Rolls-Royce AE 2100-D2A turboprop engines, each delivering 4,637 shp.

The C-27J can operate from short and rough airstrips in remote areas, without external support thanks to the internal auxiliary power unit that also allows in-light engine restarts. The built-in cargo handling system, adjustable landing gear controlling cargo loor height and inclination and power-steered nose wheel speed ground operations and minimize risks in hostile areas.

The C-27J is versatile, simple and effective. It offers the largest cargo hold in its weight-class and features a wide fuselage cross-section that accommodates military vehicles. The Spartan can carry payloads of up to 25,353 pounds, or 60 combat-equipped troops, 46 paratroopers, or 36 stretchers + 6 medical attendants. Special mission variants are easily accommodated. The Spartan is excellent at delivering relatively small military loads, such as aircraft engines, HMMWVs and howitzers, to remote locations where only jeeps could otherwise operate. A single loadmaster can reconfigure the C-27J unassisted in as little as 10 minutes, allowing the aircraft to perform many different missions on the same day. The Spartan will deploy up to 70% of the equipment of the typical airborne division. The floor of the C-27J is stronger than on the C-130 Hercules and the full-size fuselage doors and rear ramp makes the aircraft ideal for paratroop/supply airdrops.

The glass cockpit minimizes pilot workload and increases situational awareness. The cockpit design makes the C-27 NVIS/NVG compatible and can easily fitted with head-up displays. The integrated MIL-1553B digital avionics architecture uses off-the-shelf equipment and has excellent growth potential. A comprehensive self-protection package and an in-flight refueling system are also available.

Notable companies involved in manufacturing the C-27J are Alenia Aeronautica (Airframe and Electronic Systems), L-3 Communications (Prime Systems Integrator), Honeywell (Avionics System Design, FMS, and CNS/ATM), Northrop Grumman (AN/APN-241 Digital Mapping Radar), Rolls-Royce (AE 2100 Engines and FADEC) and Dowty (R-391 all composite six-blade propellers).

In November 2012, a C-27J Spartan aircraft from Mississippi Air National Guard's 186th Air Refueling Wing, transported ground equipment and personnel to New York in support of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

The U.S. C-27J acquisition program began in FY 2007 as an Army-led joint program to acquire an aircraft capable of providing direct support airlift of time sensitive and mission critical cargo to Army ground forces. A joint Army-Air Force source selection team chose the C-27J to provide this capability, and the Army awarded an aircraft production and support contract to L-3 Communications in June 2007. The aircraft meets the U.S. Army's immediate requirements and provides the Air Force with an additional aircraft for intra-theater airlift missions. In FY10, the Air Force assumed full responsibility for the direct-support airlift mission and sole responsibility for managing the C-27J acquisition program. Thirteen C-27J aircraft procured by the Army in FYs 2007-09 will be transferred to the Air Force as part of the transition from a joint program to an Air Force only program.

Cancellation of the C-27J Program and Future Plans:

The Joint Cargo Aircraft program originally planned to purchase 100 C-27Js. The C-27J was developed to provide a niche capability to directly support the U.S. Army's urgent airlift needs in difficult environments (e.g. short runways) such as Afghanistan. The C-27J was purchased to replace the Army's fleet of aging C-23 Sherpas. It was believed that the C-130 would not be able to operate in these environments, however, the anticipated airfield constraints proved not to be an issue after all. Due to the large U.S. Air Force inventory of C-130s and the lower cost to operate these aircraft, the niche capability provided by the C-27J is now no longer needed.

Therefore, as a direct result of the DoD's efforts to reduce spending, the C-27J program was cancelled prematurely. The Air Force has retired all remaining C-27Js (12 transferred to the AMARG "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona). Seven aircraft have been transferred to the Forest Service for firefighting activities. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has accepted 14 C-27Js for medium-range surveillance missions, including maritime patrol, drug and migrant interdiction, disaster response and search and rescue (SAR). The 14 C-27Js will supplement the USCG's 18 Airbus CN235-based HC-144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft. Additional C-27Js on order are being delivered straight into storage at AMARG.


None. An AC-27J attack variant was considered but never produced.

Price/Unit Cost:

The average aircraft price is $45.9 million over the life of the program (in FY 2012, the unit price paid by the DoD was $53.3 million).


The C-27J Spartan Joint Cargo Aircraft provides responsive, flexible, and tailored tactical airlift for combat, humanitarian operations and homeland defense.

FY 2013 DoD Program:

Funding in FY13 was originally cancelled as a result of the DoD's decision to terminate the C-27J program. Procurement funds in the amount of $121.5M have been allocated for C-27J aircraft modifications - net of $68.2M in sequestration cuts - Click for sequestration data for this program.

FY 2014 DoD Program:

No FY 2014 funds allocated to this program.

For more information, click to see the Complete FY 2014 C-27J Budget.

Sources: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Alenia Aermacchi,
and Rolls Royce plc.

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2014 Budget

Last Update: January 10, 2014.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard /// (

External Resources:

Alenia Aermacchi C-27J: C-27J Spartan
Alenia Aermacchi MC-27J: MC-27J Multi-Mission

YouTube: C-27J Spartan | YouTube Videos

Fact Sheet: Not available

C-27J U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the C-27J Spartan in FY2011, FY2012, FY2013 and FY2014
DoD Purchases of C-27J Spartan Aircraft in FY2011, FY2012, FY2013 and FY2014
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2011/12 + Budget for FYs 2013 and 2014

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the C-27J Spartan Defense Program

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Purchases of C-27J Spartan Aircraft (USAF) Sequestration FY2013

Aircraft Specifications: C-27J Spartan Joint Cargo Aircraft

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Primary Function: Cargo and tactial transport aircraft
Prime Contractor: Airframe: Alenia Aeronautica (Finmeccanica); Integration: L-3 Communications
Power Plant: 2x Rolls-Royce AE 2100-D2A turboprop engines with 4,637 shp (each engine)
Wingspan: 94.2 ft (28.7 m)
Length: 74.5 ft (22.7 m)
Height: Main fuselage: 11.8 ft (3.6 m); Incl. tail: 31.8 ft (9.7 m)
Weight (Empty): 37,500 lbs (17,010 kg)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 70,100 lbs (31,800 kg)
Payload: Max. 25,350 lbs (11,500 kg)
Capacity: Troop transport: up to 68 + 2 loadmasters;
Paratroop transport: up to 46 + 2 loadmasters;
Medevac: 36 stretchers + 6 medical attendants;
Cargo transport/Low Velocity Air Drop (LVAD): Up to 25,350 lbs/19,840 lbs 12E (54"x88") 7 HCU-12E (54"x88")
12 A22 CDS Bundles with a maximum weight of 19,842 lbs;
LAPES: up to 11,200 lbs wheeled and tracked vehicles, spare engines, etc.
Fuel Capacity: 3,255 gallons (12,320 liters); Optional fuel tank 402 gallons (1,520 liters)
Speed: 315 kts/363 mph (584 km/h) at MTOW
Service Ceiling: 30,000 ft (9,144 m)
Range: w/22,046 lbs payload: 1,000 nm/1,151 miles (1,852 km);
w/13,227 lbs payload: 2,300 nm/2,647 miles (4,260 km);
Ferry: 3,200 nm (5,926 km)
Armament/Weapons: None
Crew: Two or three (pilot, co-pilot, and loadmaster if needed)
Price/Unit Cost: $53.3 million (in 2012)
First Flight: June 17, 2008
Deployed: 2011
Inventory: 0 active (as of September 2013)

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