June 29, 2010
NEW DELHI — India will need more than 50 medium-sized transport planes in the medium-term, given its diverse border, homeland security and humanitarian needs, Alenia Aeronautica estimates.
“India has a lot of hot borders,” says Paolo Girasole, head of Alenia parent company Finmeccanica in India, referring to airlifters required in the remote areas of eastern India occupied by local insurgents, the Naxals.
The company has responded to a request for proposals for two medium transport planes, for which it has offered its C-27J Spartan for the Border Security Force. Trials were held last July in Leh and Bengaluru.
A request for information is out from the Indian air force for 16 medium airlifters, Roberto Leva, director of Alenia Aeronautica in India, tells Aviation Week.
The Philippines and Malaysia also have shown and interest in procuring the aircraft.
The C-27J is an advanced derivative of Alenia’s G-222 (C-27A Spartan in U.S. service), with the engines and systems of Lockheed Martin’s C-130J. “It has the same engine and avionics,” Leva adds. “That would mean a lot of savings by way of operational costs, maintenance, test and ground support equipment and training.”
India’s air force has shown concern at the mixed models the force has, expressing a need for commonality to bring in economies of scale.
The C-27J has the same floor strength as the C-130J, making it easy to transfer standard-sized 463-L pallets from one aircraft to another.
Leva is unconcerned about any clearances required for India by the U.S. government. He points out that no country they have supplied the C-27J to has been refused. “We can do any software modification. Our system is open,” he adds.
Alenia has involved Indian companies in the design and engineering of the new production line for manuals and tooling.
In 2007, the C-27J Spartan won a bid for the Joint Cargo Aircraft for the U.S. armed forces. Under the contract, 78 C-27J Spartans are to be delivered to the U.S. Army and Air Force by 2013. Five have been delivered so far.
- Neelam Mathews