Alenia’s C-27J Wins Romanian Contract
After a competition that saw the Alenia Aeronautica’s C-27J Spartan/ “Baby Herc” face off against EADS-CASA’s C-295M, Alenia Aeronautica announced on Dec 1/06 [PDF] that Romania’s Ministry of Defence has began exclusive final negotiations for 7 light tactical transports, plus support et. al. The planes will also be equipped with a complete (but as-yet unspecified) self-protection system to allow them to carry out missions in high-threat areas. The Romanian contract was expected to be signed by the end of 2006.
The contract took much longer, and was interspersed with some drama along the way, but a contract has finally been signed, and planes are being delivered…
In February 2007, the Romanian Defense Ministry stopped negotiations with Alenia Aeronautica, after Romania’s National Authority Controlling the Public Procurement upheld EADS’ complaint that it was the lowest price bidder, “which was the parameter defined by the tender procedure as the criteria for decision.” It did not dispute the ministry’s technical parameters and evaluations, however, which had given the C-27J an edge. Alenia appealed the NCSC decision, and the matter was referred to a Romanian court.
Defense News reported that even if the appeal failed, a Defense Ministry spokesman had said that Romania’s Ministry of Defense would simply relaunch its competition. Presumably with a revised set of conditions that gave its technical criteria more weight.
In the end, that wasn’t necessary. The Court of Appeals overturned the ruling, but “it rejected the request made by Alenia to make it mandatory for Romanian authorities to seal the contract with the Italian company.” The contract thus remained uncertain, as the C-27J’s selection remained controversial in Romania.
Local media complained that Alenia had come in as the lower bidder by EUR 42.2 million, but only by misrepresenting its aircraft, offering to service the plane for 28 years instead of 30 (EUR 2 million), and removing fuel costs from the calculus (EUR 90 million). Allegations were also made that a full and honest calculus of the cost-per-hour for servicing and operating the planes would have run over the EUR 1,500 per hour maximum limit set in the RFP. The ministry’s requirement for an internal height of 83 inches also attracted criticism – that height and a strengthened floor are very helpful when transporting tactical loads like vehicles or small helicopters, and 83 inches happens to correspond to the C-27′s height, but it is not a NATO requirement or standard as claimed.
Eventually, however, Romania’s Ministry of Defence got its way, and a bought a light tactical transport with the ability to carry vehicles as well as cargo. On Dec 7/07, a EUR 217 million (about $318 million) contract was signed in Bucharest between Alenia and the Romanian Ministry of Defence’s Romtechnica for 7 aircraft, plus pilot training, initial logistics support, and a flight simulator that will be based in Bucharest. The first aircraft will be delivered by the end of 2008. Alenia’s release [PDF] claims that its winning edge was:
“…as compared to the C.295M, only the C-27J proved to be able to satisfy Romanian request for an APU, Auxiliary Power Unit equipped airlifter, to guarantee the aircraft’s total autonomy from energy sources on ground and flying; a complete automatic defence system against all landbased threats; the capability of reaching within 15 minutes 5000 metres of altitude with full payload; a large-capacity flight data recorder and above all operational interoperability with the other transport aircraft in service with Romania and the other NATO countries, first of all with the C-130 Hercules…” [with whom it shares high commonality].
In addition to early orders from Italy (12 aircraft) and Greece (12), the C-27J has now been ordered by Bulgaria (5), Romania (7), Lithuania (3), and the USA (Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program reported to be about 78); Alenia claims a total of 117 firm orders from all customers to date, which does not count Bulgaria’s 3 options or Greece’s 3.
- Alenia Aeronautica (April 12/10) – The first two C-27J Spartan aircraft for the Romanian Air Forces land in Bucharest
- Daily Estimate (Sept 4/07) – Procurement transparency dogs Romania
- Jurnalul National (Aug 6/07) – Italy’s Alenia Said Romania Ordered Seven Planes; But The Contract Is Still Disputed In Court