First Australia Battlefield Airlifter Flies in Italy

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By Athena Yenko | December 19, 2013 6:53 PM EST

Australia's first battlefield airlifter C-27J Spartan  of the Royal Australian Air Force had successfully made its maiden flight in Italy on Dec 19, Thursday, Chief Executive Officer of the Defence material Organisation (DMO) Warren King announced.

The C-27J Spartan  is capable of undertaking different missions - from delivering ammunition to front line troops, to conducting aero-medical evacuation of casualties and to supporting humanitarian assistance missions in remote locations and high threat environments.

The airlifter was designed as a partner aircraft to the C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster fleets. It also has the same infrastructure, engines, avionics and cargo handling systems with the C-130J Hercules.

The C-27 battlefield airlifter will replace the Caribou which had been obsolete from service since 2009. C-27J's flies further, faster and higher even with heavier cargoes.  Also, it only needs a smaller runway than the other aircrafts. Overall, it was praised for its performance, configuration and suitability.

Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown AO, said that the C-27J Spartan  will improve Air Force's ability  to provide air power to smaller runways in some regions inaccessible  by larger aircraft.

"The C-27J is the missing piece in our air lift capability. The C-17A Globemaster and C-130J Hercules provide medium and heavy airlift, however, we need a battlefield airlifter to ensure we can land at the locations throughout Australia and our region with smaller runways to provide air power when and where it is needed most," Air Marshal Brown said.

According to Mr King, the maiden flight of C-27J Spartan was an exciting milestone for the DMO and RAAF. The C-27J Spartan represented a major step towards further strengthening of the Air Force's airlift capability. And, although it operates on a budget and on schedule for delivery, the very first two C-27Js are expected to Arrive in Australia in 2015. It is expected to achieve initial operational capability in late 2016.

"As we all know, humanitarian assistance is very topical at the moment with the recent events in the Philippines," Mr King said.

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