14 October 2013 by Guy Martin - defenceWeb
Chad’s Air Force will soon receive two new C-27J Spartan medium transport aircraft from Alenia Aermacchi, with the aircraft undergoing final assembly at the company’s site in Italy.
The first C-27J for the Force Aerienne Tchadienne (Chad Air Force) is mostly complete, having had its engines installed ahead of a provisional mid-December delivery, and is undergoing avionics and mission systems installation. The fuselage of the second aircraft will shortly arrive at Alenia’s Caselle site in Turin, where the C-27J final assembly line is located.
Training of Chadian flight crew and technicians is currently underway in preparation for delivery of the aircraft later this year.
The Chad Air Force has a small transport fleet, comprising of a couple of Antonov An-26s (which entered service in 1994) and a single Lockheed Martin C-130 (which entered service in 1989). It is possible that the An-26s will be replaced by the C-27Js.
Chad began discussing the possible purchase of Spartans some years ago, with a leaked 2009 US diplomatic cable discussing the possibility of Chad buying C-130Js or C-27Js. “Purchasing C-27Js would be more economical for the GOC [Government of Chad] than buying C-130Js and might be no more expensive than buying refitted C-130Hs,” the cable read. “The C-27Js can land at many more airports in Chad than the bigger C-130s, either Js or Hs, thus complementing USG [US Government] efforts to make the Chadian military capable of combating terrorism in Chad's vast, remote, under-populated, and under-governed northern Saharan and Sahelian regions.”
Morocco is the only other C-27J operator in Africa, having bought four Spartans in October 2008. The first was delivered in July 2010. Morocco selected the C-27J for its ability to operate without under extreme environmental conditions, and without deployed ground support.
Alenia Aermacchi is gearing up to deliver another two C-27Js to Australia, as part of its May 2012 order for ten, and the final three of 21 for the US Air Force, which will place them in storage after the 2012 decision to stop flying the type.
The C-27J has been selected by more than ten countries, including Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, the United States, Lithuania, Romania, Morocco, Slovakia, Mexico and Chad and has flown missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The aircraft has a payload capacity of 11.5 tons and can carry 60 troops or 36 litters with six attendants.
The Spartan’s closest competitor, the Airbus Military CN235/C295, has also been pushing for African sales, and has gained orders in Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt and Ghana.