Leonardo (Alenia) C-27 Spartan Medium-Lift Tactical Transport Aircraft
The Alenia C-27J Spartan is a further evolution of the original Alenia G.222 transport line.
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The Alenia C-27 "Spartan" is a medium-lift transport and joint development effort founded by Italy's Alenia and America's Lockheed Martin. The aircraft is largely based on the existing - and modestly successful - Alenia G.222 twin-engined medium transport which first flew in 1970 and was accepted into service by various countries beginning in 1978 (including the Italian Air Force). Production of the type spanned from 1970 to 1993 to which 111 examples were ultimately produced. The original G.222 was developed to a NATO requirement which further evolved through an Italian Air Force requirement that produced a global alternative to the 1950s-era American Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" transport. The G.222 offered up similar medium-hauling capabilities and short-runway operation while borrowing many of the C-130s successful design qualities (including its high-mounted wings and raised empennage for ease of loading/unloading and approved ground clearance).
In 1990, the United States Air Force (USAF) sought a quick-reacting, medium-class hauler through its "Rapid Response Intra-Theater Airlifter" (RRITA) initiative and took on deliveries of the Italian G.222 as the C-27A "Spartan". These G.222s were given American-centric avionics by Chrysler Aerospace and based out of Howard Air Force Base in Panama. In 1995, Alenia and Lockheed Martin formally joined forces to incorporate the "all-glass" cockpit and General Electric T64G engines (powering four-bladed propeller assemblies) being designed for the upcoming C-130J "Super Hercules" into the existing G.222 airframe. This joint initiative - under the new "Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems" (LMATTS) brand label - began the equally-new "C-27J" designation which appeared in 1996 (the Spartan designation was retained) and, by the end of development, the intended General Electric powerplants have been given up in favor of the improved Rolls-Royce AR 2100 turboprop series while the original four-bladed propellers were dropped in favor of a newer six-bladed design. The resulting configuration produced an aircraft that was superior to the original Alenia G.222 design, able to fly faster and farther than previously intended. Serial production ensued to which the C-27J entered service with the Italian Air Force in 2006.