The Kenya Air Force will soon add
three C-27J Spartan transport aircraft to its fleet. Kenya reportedly
signed a $198 million loan agreement with Unitcredit Spa Bank late last year to finance the acquisition of the aircraft. Alenia partnered with L-3 Communications and Boeing to offer the C-27J Spartan. Launched in 1997, the C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft incorporates the same propulsion system and advanced avionics as the C-130J Hercules Transporter, giving it the name “Baby Herc”. The aircraft design is based on the proven G-222 airframe from Alenia, with turboprop engines from Allison and advanced systems from Lockheed Martin. The C-27J Spartan
has the same logistical and maintenance characteristics of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules medium tactical airlifter, and also shares commonality of the cargo capacity. The primary roles of the C-27J
are cargo transport, troop transport, and material and paratroop air drop. Other missions include maritime patrol, tactical operations, medical evacuation, ground refueling, fire-fighting and aerial spraying. The planes delivery is scheduled for 2019.
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.