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Tanzania Orders C-27J Spartan Transport Aircraft From Italy’s Leonardo

Tanzania will use the aircraft primarily for civil support duties, as the aircraft will be equipped with kits for humanitarian, search and rescue, and firefighting missions.

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Dar es Salaam. Tanzania has ordered two C-27J Spartan transport aircraft from Italy’s Leonardo, becoming the fifth African customer for the aircraft after Chad, Kenya, Morocco and Zambia, it has been reported.

According to reports, Leonardo and the Tanzanian Ministry of Defence celebrated the purchase on January 9, 2023, attended by the Tanzanian Minister of Defence and National Service, Stergomena Tax, and Italian Ambassador to Tanzania, Marco Lombardi.

Reports suggest that the deal will see Tanzania use the aircraft primarily for civil support duties, as the aircraft will be equipped with kits for humanitarian, search and rescue, and firefighting missions. One of their roles will be for firefighting operations on Mount Kilimanjaro and in the East African region.

The C-27Js will be operated by the Tanzanian Air Force’s Transport Squadron at Dar Es-Salaam/Julius Nyerere air base, which flies two Shaanxi Y-8s, two Harbin Y-12s and a couple of Cessna 402s. A delivery date for the new aircraft was not revealed, nor contract value.

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According to a report by Defence Web, a website which covers military and defence issues, in Africa, the C-27J is operated by Chad (two), Kenya (three), Morocco (four), and Zambia (two), while other military customers who use the aircraft or have placed orders include Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Peru, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the United States (although the US Air Force divested the type to the US Coast Guard and US Special Operations Command owing to budgetary reasons).

The publication added that the Spartan was developed from the G.222/C-27A, using the engines and systems of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules to provide 30 per cent lower operating costs than the G.222 and 35 per cent greater range. It first flew on September 24, 1999.

The Spartan can carry up to 60 troops in high-density configuration and a maximum of 46 paratroopers. In the medical role, 36 stretchers and six attendants can be carried. The normal payload is 9 000 kg for the C-27J, although the maximum payload is around 11 tons.

Leonardo recently revealed the C-27J Next Generation (NG), which includes new cockpit displays, weather radar, modern navigation, and communications equipment, as well as aerodynamic improvements, including winglets.

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In December 2023, the company celebrated the global C-27J fleet reaching the 250 000 flight hours milestone, citing “significant operational achievements through a wide range of defence and civil protection missions in the most challenging environments and operating conditions, where other aircraft can’t be deployed.”

The C-27J can be provided with in-flight refuelling, self-protection, secure communications and ballistic protection systems to operate in high-threat environments. 

With multiple roll-on/roll-off mission kits easily installed and transportable roll-on/roll-off mission systems, the C-27J can be quickly reconfigured, Leonardo said. 

A wide spectrum of mission configurations/versions includes fire-fighting, Maritime Patrol (MP), Command-Control-Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C3ISR) and special operations versions.

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