Tanzania has ordered two C-27J Spartan transport aircraft from Italy’s Leonardo, becoming the fifth African customer for the aircraft after Chad, Kenya, Morocco and Zambia.
A signing ceremony between Leonardo and the Tanzanian Ministry of Defence was held on 9 January, the Italian government reported, and attended by the Tanzanian Minister of Defence and National Service, Stergomena Tax, and Italian Ambassador to Tanzania, Marco Lombardi.
The deal will see Tanzania use the aircraft primarily for civil support duties, as the aircraft will be equipped with kits for humanitarian, search and rescue, and firefighting missions. One of their roles will be for firefighting operations on Mount Kilimanjaro and in the East African region.
The C-27Js will be operated by the Tanzanian Air Force’s Transport Squadron at Dar Es-Salaam/Julius Nyerere air base, which flies two Shaanxi Y-8s, two Harbin Y-12s and a couple of Cessna 402s. A delivery date for the new aircraft was not revealed, nor contract value.
In Africa, the C-27J is operated by Chad (two), Kenya (three), Morocco (four), and Zambia (two), while other military customers who use the aircraft or have placed orders include Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Peru, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the United States (although the US Air Force divested the type to the US Coast Guard and US Special Operations Command owing to budgetary reasons).
The Spartan was developed from the G.222/C-27A, using the engines and systems of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules to provide 30% lower operating costs than the G.222 and 35% greater range. It first flew on 24 September 1999.
The Spartan offers the ability to carry up to 60 troops in high density configuration and a maximum of 46 paratroopers. In the medical role 36 stretchers and six attendants can be carried. Normal payload is 9 000 kg for the C-27J, although maximum payload is around 11 tons.
Leonardo recently revealed the C-27J Next Generation (NG), which includes new cockpit displays, weather radar, modern navigation, and communications equipment, as well as aerodynamic improvements, including winglets.
In December 2023, the company celebrated the global C-27J fleet reaching the 250 000 flight hours milestone, citing “significant operational achievements through a wide range of defence and civil protection missions in the most challenging environments and operating conditions, where other aircraft can’t be deployed.”
The C-27J can be provided with in-flight refuelling, self-protection, secure communications and ballistic protection systems to operate in high-threat environments. With multiple roll-on/roll-off mission kits easily installed and transportable roll-on/roll-off mission systems, the C-27J can be quickly reconfigured. A wide spectrum of mission configuration/versions also include fire-fighting, Maritime Patrol (MP), Command-Control-Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C3ISR) and special operations versions.