The commercial collaboration between Italy and Azerbaijan has been strengthened with the signing of the contract for the supply of the C-27J Spartan. An Azerbaijani delegation was in Italy for the contract signing in the presence of representatives of the Defence Ministers of the two countries. Leonardo’s C-27J Spartan is an aircraft capable of executing a vast range of defence and civil protection missions. Extensive experience gained in operations with different air forces worldwide makes it the ideal aircraft for military transport missions, airdrops of paratroopers and materials, ‘last mile’ tactical troop support, special forces operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Initially linked to the energy sectors, the collaboration between Italy and Azerbaijan is now also extended to defence industry products thanks to the valuable contribution provided by the Italian Ministry of Defence working group. The programme for the purchase of the C-27J from Leonardo, a tactical transport aircraft with many years of proven experience in the most challenging operational scenarios, was finalized through a technical round table between the Italian Ministry of Defence and its Azeri counterpart. The agreement is part of the extensive modernisation programme of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, which are increasingly looking to the products of Italian industry.
The Alenia C-27J Spartan is a military transport aircraft developed and manufactured by Leonardo’s Aircraft Division (formerly Alenia Aermacchi until 2016). It is an advanced derivative of Alenia Aeronautica’s earlier G.222 (C-27A Spartan in U.S. service), equipped with the engines and various other systems also used on the larger Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules. The design use the C-130J Super Hercules’s Rolls-Royce AE 2100 engine and six-blade propeller. In addition to the standard transport configuration, specialized variants of the C-27J have been developed for maritime patrol, search and rescue, C3 ISR (command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), fire support/ground-attack and electronic warfare missions.
In 2007, the C-27J was selected as the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) for the United States military; these were produced in an international teaming arrangement under which L-3 Communications served as the prime contractor. In 2012, the United States Air Force (USAF) elected to retire the C-27J after only a short service life due to budget cuts; they were later reassigned to the U.S. Coast Guard and United States Special Operations Command. The C-27J has also been ordered by the military air units of Australia, Bulgaria, Chad, Greece, Italy, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Zambia and an undisclosed country. In November 2020, Leonardo launched the C-27J Next Generation programme with new equipment, systems and aerodynamic solutions to improve operating efficiency and enhance performance.