Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems – LMATTS C-27J Spartan 11.

On the Ground   In the Air   Cabin & Crew   Instrument Panel   Other Photographs

World AirNews was invited onto a flight by Roberto Polidoro, Head of Alenia's C-27J Program office, to experience the performance and what the latest C-27J Spartan can offer.

The pre-flight walk around the aircraft was interesting as several important features became obvious, such as the high position of the engines, two 4,640 shp Rolls-Royce AE2100-D2 fitted with six blade composite Dowty R391 propellers, well out of the way of stones and other debris when flown from unprepared airstrips. The six blade propellers used, again to keep the propeller tips well away from the ground and out of harms way, far better than using a four blade type. The aircraft fuselage sits close to the ground on its sturdy undercarriage, the rear ramp allowing extremely easy access up a gentle slope, ramp deployment in seconds, ready to roll on or off vehicles, for troops to exit the aircraft once stopped or of course in the air during a paradrop.

Inside the aircraft, what is striking is the load space:

68 combat troops, 48 paratroops or 36 NATO standard litters with 6 nurses can be accommodated, load carrying can either be up to 8,500kg with a 3G load limit or an even heavier 11,500 kg with a 2.25G restriction. The cargo floor is even stronger than the C130J Hercules at 2,000kg/sq.mtr.

A typical mission would see the aircraft capable of flying more than 1,000 miles with a 10,000 kg load.

Cruise is at 315knots, operating altitude up to 30,000 feet as the aircraft is fully pressurised, good hot and high performance, tactical take off run is 580 metres at MTOW and landing roll, 340 metres at MLW.

On the day, in the left hand seat was Alenia Test Pilot, Agostino FREDIANI and in the right hand seat the Alenia Chief Test Pilot, Gianluca EVANGELISTI with Roberto POLIDORO ready to answer questions.

Take off can only be described as stunning, naturally the aircraft was lightly loaded, we leapt off the runway after less than 300 metres climbing away steeply, on a standard logistical mission the time to 10,000 feet is just 3 minutes. In flight the aircraft is stable, no hot, bumpy African skies it must be said, the pilots have superb visibility and the latest avionics supplied by Honeywell, Northrop Grumman and Rockwell Collins make the pilots' job that much easier.

Landing was also impressive, during a threat avoidance approach the aircraft can get down from 10,000 feet in 2.5 minutes, at Farnborough the landing run was less than 250 metres after an approach at 105 knots, short flare before touchdown and then maximum reverse and full brakes.

Overall, for a military planner/buyer, this aircraft has got to be a serious contender, its internal dimensions are not that much smaller than the C130 except for the length, in height and width it is far greater than its nearest competitors, Antonov AN32 and the aircraft from CASA, combined with the fact that Alenia's proven G-222 airframe now with the two very powerful Rolls-Royce engines give this aircraft startling performance.

Both the Italian and Greek Air Forces have ordered the aircraft, even more important is that with the full backing of the USA Government as well as the Italian Government, the combined might of Lockheed Martin Alenia, this should see the aircraft as setting the standard for what the US Military call the 'Future Cargo Aircraft'.

It is rare these days to find aircraft manufacturers promoting their aircraft with so many demo flights, the LMATTS team feel that they have the best aircraft on offer with the correct backing and in service support, their confidence in their product is infectious, to my mind this aircraft is a winner.