Leonardo has begun the final testing of the C-27J Next Generation which features new equipment, a new avionics system and advanced aerodynamic devices, these will enhance the existing high performance of the aircraft. The first C-27J in the new configuration will be delivered to an undisclosed customer in 2021.
The performance and reliability of the C-27J Spartan continues to evolve as the best response to its customers’ needs. Pushing on the aircraft’s versatility and mission flexibility, the C-27J offers an ever-increasing range of mission solutions, which adapt in response to new challenges faced by operators. A true force enabler, its unrivalled multi-mission capabilities are key in presenting the latest evolution of the Spartan as a cost-effective solution and an intelligent investment for nations, which are selecting it for their military, as well as civil protection requirements.
Marco Zoff, Leonardo Aircraft Division’s Managing Director, said: “The enhanced C-27J brings the unrivalled quality and capabilities of the Spartan to the next, higher level. Its operators will benefit from modern avionics, increased performance and efficiency. The Spartan embodies the essence of national security, proving to be the best asset for armed forces’ defence operations and for their fundamental contribution to population support and disaster relief.” In a world hit this year by the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies international media have extensively reported on the C-27J’s relentless and effective support to communities in need. Mr. Zoff also added: “Our customers have discovered in this aircraft an element of social inclusion, because it is the only aircraft capable to reach people in the most remote rural areas of their nations.”
Leonardo is committed to serving and protecting communities around the world, contributing to their sustainable growth by leading in next generation technologies. Partnering with Governments, private organizations and industries for the best security and safety capabilities is a cornerstone of Leonardo’s BeTomorrow2030 Strategic Plan.
Already acknowledged as the most effective multi-mission military transport aircraft in its class, the C-27J Next Generation today features comprehensive new avionics and aerodynamic developments with new winglets, for improved operational efficiency and even better performance. Mission-proven across all continents with a number of prime air forces, the Spartan is operated in the world’s most demanding operational environments – from the Andes to Afghanistan – for military transport, cargo and paratroopers air drop, last tactical mile troop support, special operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Leonardo C-27J Next Generation
The brand-new avionics system of the C-27J Next Generation is designed to comply with Next Generation Air Traffic Control requirements, including FANS 1/A+ datalink; TCAS 7.1; ILS Cat.II; enhanced video TAWS. New cockpit displays; new weather radar; new radio navigation; enhanced satellite communications and radio communication capabilities; new intercommunication system; new cockpit and cargo panels; Mode 5 IFF/ADS-B out and tactical VNAV and Search and Rescue; lighting system with LED technology have also been included. Moreover, former avionics and general systems interface boxes have been replaced with new equipment by Leonardo’s Electronics. The new baseline configuration is also offered as a retrofit to current operators wanting to upgrade their C-27J fleet capabilities.
Thanks to its exceptional structural strength and systems redundancy, the C-27J offers unique qualities of ruggedness, reliability, outstanding survivability and manoeuvrability. Its capability to operate from the most rudimentary airstrips, performing short take-offs and landings (STOL) in extreme environmental conditions is enhanced by the winglets, while Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) provides an independent power source, which can restart engines in flight, or make the aircraft autonomous and self-reliable during deployment missions at improvised airfields.
The aircraft can be equipped with a Defensive Aids Sub-Systems suite, secure communications and ballistic protection in order to operate in high threat environments.
Thanks to its multiple roll-on/roll-off mission kits and systems, the C-27J can be quickly configured and reconfigured to carry out a wide range of tasks, including a tactical transport, maritime patrol, even incorporating ASW or C3ISR tasks. As a tactical transport aircraft, its capabilities include transport of troops, cargo, paratroops and cargo airdrop, Medevac/Casevac, VIP, but can also carry out operations of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and fire-fighting, thanks to its fast operational reconfiguration.
As stated by the test pilot Matteo Maurizio, Leonardo’s Head of Project Test Pilot Airlifters, Special Versions and UAS, who has been involved in the development of the new variant of the Spartan since its first test flights, in terms of quality the new state-of-the-art avionics technology fully complies with the most up-to-date international standard, called Performance Based Navigation and to have in the cockpit new features as FANS1/A+ Datalink, TCAS 7.1, ILS Cat II and Enhanced Video TAWS. This enables to exploit all the capabilities offered by the operation in civil air spaces with no limitations and to enhance interoperability in tactical military scenarios with the integration of Mode 5 IFF/ADS-B out, tactical VNAV and Search and Rescue.
The new cockpit layout includes five new Colour Multipurpose Display Units – featuring new and enhanced LED lighting and panels that increase pilots’ efficiency during a flight – a dual redundant Flight Management System, two Digital Autopilot-Flight Director Systems with auto-throttle capabilities, and a comprehensive communications suite. For intra-theatre operations, these features, coupled with the many large cockpit windows typical of the Spartan, full cockpit compatibility with NVIS/NVG night vision systems and Head-Up Display availability help to minimise pilot workload while increasing the ability to manage the mission effectively in day, night and adverse weather conditions.
In terms of performance, the new winglets offer us several advantages in terms of aircraft controllability, in particular flying at slow speeds, as well as better payload capability also in hot and high conditions.
For sure, while its cruising speed of 325 KTAS (602 km/h) and service ceiling of 30,000 ft (9,144 m) will not change with the new configuration, the winglets will improve the aircraft’s climb capabilities in terms of climb gradients or MTOW of approximately 1,000 kg. This will allow to operate from those airports with particularly steep climb gradients, which are normally served by four-engine aircraft.