Northrop Grumman Australia and the Italian aerospace company Leonardo announced a partnership to build and maintain troop carrier aircraft to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). Under the agreement, the companies will partner on a bid for the incoming future air mobility capability (FAMC) programme of the RNZAF to offer the Leonardo-built C-27J as a replacement for the country’s ageing C-130H fleet. They will jointly bid on the Future Air Mobility Capability Program of the Air Force, and use their existing relationship to offer the C-27J to New Zealand as a replacement for its aging C-130H fleet.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) can use the C-27J to perform a wide range of airlift missions in adverse environmental conditions, including humanitarian aid, disaster relief, transport, and search and rescue. Both companies will prepare a roadmap for future modernisation and upgrades using reach-back and sovereign capabilities. Leonardo intends to leverage the existing partnership with Northrop Grumman Australia for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Spartan fleet.
The plane, formerly known as the Alenia C-27J Spartan, is a twin-engine turboprop military transport aircraft, equipped with engines and other systems also used on Lockheed Martin’s C-130J Super Hercules. The C-27J Spartan is a new generation tactical airlifter with great market success, with 82 aircraft already sold to 14 operators across five continents. The C-27J offers high operational effectiveness together with competitive costs, extreme flexibility, the best performance in its category in all conditions and unique interoperability with larger airlifters.
The Leonardo C-27J Spartan has been designed as a true military tactical/battlefield airlifter to routinely operate from short austere airstrips. The Spartan offers unique qualities, not found in aircraft of the same class or derived from commercial turboprops, such as: ruggedness, reliability, outstanding survivability and maneuverability. The aircraft has the capability to perform autonomous operations from remote areas and is qualified to perform short take-offs and landings on any type of unprepared airstrips (snow, sand, gravel and grass). The C-27J is currently in operation globally with various military services, including the U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, Italian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.