The United States Coast Guard (USCG) will acquire 14 Alenia Aermacchi C-27Js Spartan as part of an intra-service transfer from the United States Air Force (USAF), the aircraft manufacturer, Alenia North America announced. The transfer was approved on December 19 through the Congressional passage of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act and formally signed into law by President Obama on December 26. These aircraft were originally ordered for the US Air Force Air National Guard, replacing C-130 Hercules, but were put in storage soon after their delivery, following the Air Force decision to cancel the program. The commercial terms or agreed by the government prevented the sale or transfer of the aircraft to foreign countries but do not preclude their use by other government agencies.
The law allows 14 of the current USAF C-27Js to be promptly transferred to the USCG with initial flight operations commencing within 6-12 months. The aircraft will be used for medium range surveillance USCG missions such as maritime patrol, drug and migrant interdiction, disaster response, and search and rescue.
The company said it is anticipating the USCG will immediately begin the process for expanding the C-27J’s capabilities, adding mission kits tailored for its specific missions. Such kits could include surface-search radars, electro-optical sensors and mission suites to be installed on all 14 planes.
According to Benjamin Stone, president and chief executive officer of Alenia Aermacchi’s North American business unit, the C-27J will be able to support medium and long range surveillance capabilities enhancing the coast guards’ ability to cover specific areas of interest. The guard currently operates the EADS/CASA CN-235 HC-144 ‘Ocean Sentry’ aircraft for that mission. First delivered in 2006, the USCG currently operates 15 such aircraft, and planned to but 20 more. The availability of the 14 C-27Js will obviously change these plans. It will also provide the guard the opportunity to compare operational costs and determine which aircraft of the two provides more economical for its mission profile. EADS claim to have an edge over the Spartan in terms of direct maintenance and fuel consumption. On the other hand, Alenia said its C-27J boasts the highest power-to-weight ratio in its class, thus providing USCG with greater range, endurance, speed and payload capacity over the twin turboprops currently in its inventory.
According to Stone, the C-27J’s ability to perform fighter aircraft-like 3.0g force maneuvers — enabling it to make tight turns, and to climb and descend quickly. It can fly farther, faster and higher than any other twin engine military transport aircraft in its class.