Why Peru Picked Alenia’s C-27J for Light Tactical Airlift
How do you top the recent re-opening of the DIFAA UFO investigation department? If you’re the Peruvian Air Force, you buy 2 C-27J light tactical airlifters from Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi, in order to shore up a weak area for the FAP. DID looks at the underlying need, the contract, the potential for a larger opportunity, and why Alenia won this time. We also compare success to date for Finmeccanica’s C-27J and its main rival, Airbus Military’s C295.
The contract isn’t quite finalized, but Finmeccanica subsidiary Alenia Aermacchi’s Nov 25/13 release describes it as “around” EUR 100 million. Peru later nailed down the figures: $121,986,000, which saved $12.28 million over the initial price of US $ 134,274,491.22.
That $60 million per plane involves far more than just flyaway cost. The contract includes full training, 1,000 hours of flight, ground support equipment, additional Search & Rescue and Air Ambulance kits, 2 years of support, and industrial and social offsets equivalent to 100% of the contract. Alenia also reduced their proposed delivery time from 18 – 15 months, moving planned delivery to April 2015.
Future contracts could add more business for Finmeccanica. The FAP operates 5 AN-32B light tactical transports, but Peru flies 12 AN-32Bs across its entire armed forces. The 20-year old planes are openly described by Peru’s MdD as “proximos a cumplir su Tiempo Limite de Operacion,” so something will have to be done soon.
Why Alenia Won 2
After flight evaluations of the C-27J, Airbus C295, and Antonov’s upgraded AN-32RE, Peru invited bids, but Antonov didn’t respond. Alenia says that it won the final competition against the C295 due in part to its high-altitude capabilities among the Andes mountains, “with the capability to operate on a large number of airfields where its competitor is unable to land.”
It’s well known that the C-27J design trades some flight cost efficiency for extra speed and power, and the Peruvian Ministerio de Defensa says that the C-27J doubles the C295′s total load at high-altitude Peruvian airfields like Arequipa, Ayacucho, Juliaca, Anta, Puerto Maldonado, Huanuco, Andahuaylas, Cusco, Cockaigne, etc. Indeed, the MdD went farther, pointing out that the C295 has less power than the FAP’s long-retired AN-26s, which experienced a number of fatal accidents.
Alenia’s release also cited their plane as “the only aircraft in its class interoperable with heavier airlifters already in service in Peru.” That statement is a bit puzzling. Peru operates a small airlift fleet, and most of them are either equivalent (12 old An-32Bs, being replaced) or lighter (new DHC-6-400 Twin Otter) planes. The only aircraft that would qualify as “heavier airlifters” are a pair of 737s used as utility/VIP aircraft, an L-100-20 (civil stretched C-130E) and a pair of ex-USAF C-130Es. The C-27J’s commonalities, such as they are, are mostly with the modern C-130J.
On the other hand, Australia’s ANAO says that they picked the C-27J in part because the Airbus C295′s narrower cargo compartment can’t transport the standard sized cargo pallet used in the RAAF’s C-130s. With so few tactical airlifters in FAP service, one can understand why the C-27J’s ability to carry vehicles and small helicopters, and to use the same cargo pallets, would give it another advantage over the C295.
Global Markets: The Bigger Picture
Peru becomes the 11th C-27J customer, joining Italy, Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Romania, the United States, and “an undisclosed African country” (Chad). Total orders to date are 74 aircraft.
That’s a decent total, but it lags behind its perennial Airbus C295 opponent, whose maritime patrol option has helped expand sales to 97 so far. The new C295W promises improvements to flight performance specifications that have cost the airlifter in Morocco and Peru, and an AEW (Airborne Early Warning radar plane) collaboration with Israel’s IAI is in testing. The C-27J can counter with a unique MC-27J gunship variant, which Airbus is only offering on the smaller CN235 so far.
- El Comercio (Nov 30/13) – Perú compró dos aviones italianos para la FAP por US$ 121,9 millones
- Peru MdD (Nov 29/13) – Adquisicion De Aviones De Transporte De La Fap Es Legal Y Permite Ahorro De US$ 12 Millones
- Alenia Aermacchi (Nov 25/13) – Peruvian Ministry of Defense selects the Alenia Aermacchi C-27J
- Alenia North America – C-27J Spartan Tactical Transport Aircraft
- DID – Ferry Dust: Why Did Australia Sole-Source the C-27J?
- DID – India Refurbishing its AN-32 Transport Fleet. The AN-32RE evaluated by Peru is based on a modernization program for India’s AN-32 fleet, which also needs to be able to operate at high altitudes.
- Airbus Military – C295.