Northrop Grumman Australia and the Italian company Leonardo
are partnering up to build and maintain troop carrier aircraft for New Zealand. They signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide Leonardo’s C-27J aircraft to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). The two companies will jointly bid the Air Force’s incoming Future Air Mobility Capability (FAMC) Program. Through the partnership, Leonardo aims to bring a whole-of-life sustainment approach to the C-27J
. Both companies will prepare a roadmap for future modernization and upgrades using reach-back and sovereign capabilities. The RNZAF can utilize the C-27J to perform a wide range of airlift missions in adverse environmental conditions, including humanitarian aid, disaster relief, transport, and search and rescue.
The Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) could have been worth up to $6 billion before all was said and done, and the finalists were a familiar duo. After EADS-CASA’s CN-235 and a shortened version of Lockheed Martin’s C-130J were disqualified for failing to meet requirements, JCA became yet another international competition between EADS-CASA’s C-295M & Alenia’s C-27J. The C-27J team eventually won the delayed decision in June 2007, and prevailed in the subsequent contract protests from their rivals. What remained unclear was exactly what they had won. The joint-service decision and contract announcement didn’t end the inter-service and Congressional politicking, and the contractor side was equally fractious. This FOCUS article covers the JCA competition, and subsequent developments – including the Pentagon’s 2012 push to end the program, and sell its planes.