Minister for Defence Marise Payne has announced the achievement of Initial Operating Capability for the RAAF’s fleet of C-27J Spartan aircraft.
Minister Payne congratulated Air Force on achieving this significant milestone, which will increase Defence’s ability to move people, equipment and supplies in Australia and our region.
“The Spartan can access airfields that are unable to support larger transport aircraft, thus increasing the reach for Defence when supporting communities across Australia and throughout the Asia-Pacific region,” Minister Payne said.
“The Spartan can now be tasked on missions to transport 40 passengers or three military pallets of cargo, as well as fulfil roles such as light equipment airdrop.”
The Chief of the Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies said he was proud of the milestone, as the C-27J Spartan was the missing piece in our air mobility matrix for tactical aircraft.
“The arrival of the Spartan will greatly increase the mobility and flexibility for local commanders, allowing intra-theatre airlift that will bridge C-130J Hercules and CH-47 Chinook options,” AIRMSHL Davies said.
The acquisition of the Spartan represents a $1.6 billion investment in Australia’s airlift capability, following the retirement of the Vietnam-era Caribou transports in 2009.
To date, four of Australia’s 10 Spartans have arrived in Australia, where they are operated by Number 35 Squadron from RAAF Base Richmond. Following construction of dedicated facilities at RAAF Base Amberley, Number 35 Squadron will relocate in 2019.
According to the RAAF, the C-27J Spartan battlefield air lifter will improve Air Force’s ability to move people, equipment and supplies in Australia and our region. With the capacity to carry significant loads and still land on airstrips that are not suited for the C-130J Hercules, the C-27J Spartan will undertake a range of missions.
The 10 C-27J Spartans will be equipped with missile warning systems, electronic self-protection and battlefield armour, allowing them to operate freely in high-threat environments.
In our region, the C-27J can access over 1,900 airfields compared with around 500 for the C-130 Hercules aircraft. Within Australia, the C-27J can access over 400 airfields compared with around 200 for the C-130J Hercules aircraft.
The flexibility of the C-27J allows it to undertake a wide range of missions, from delivering ammunition to front line troops to undertaking aero-medical evacuation of casualties.