U.S. Coast Guard wants to get its hands on 14 C-27J Spartan planes

Pentagon has recently announced  the decision to assign seven C-27J Spartan airlifters to the U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command).

The aircraft are part of the batch of 21 tactical transport aircraft procured by the U.S. Air Force before the service took the controversial decision to store them all because they were too expensive to operate.

Therefore, instead of laying in the desert in near active condition at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, seven aircraft will be assigned to SOCOM (Special Operations Command).

Three SOCOM aircraft were reportedly moved to Pope Field, in North Carolina, whereas the remaining four (two of those are still being assembled in Turin, Italy) will be delivered by the first half of 2014.

What about the remaining 14?

Along with U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Coast Guard has shown interests in the C-27J. In an interesting interview with Defense News, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Papp said that the service wanted all 21 aircraft scrapped by the Air Force. However, they will get 14 or less (considered that U.S. Forest Service will eventually get a few of them).

“Ideally, out of the remaining aircraft, we’d like to get 14 because that allows us to fully outfit three air stations. Anything less than that and we would have to go back and really re-evaluate the project,” Papp told Defense News.

Dealing with the ending purchase of the CASA C-295 he explained: “We would do a new lay down of aircraft because the C-27J has a lot of the avionics and the engines that our C-130Js have. So there’s a lot of logistics compatibility there that we can gain synergies from. It’s a little bit more capable aircraft. It’s one of the aircraft we looked at when we started the Deepwater project. So we’re going to press ahead and get as many of those as we can.”

Coast Guard, that plans to equip an Alaskan station with the Spartan, could employ the same special SAR (Search And Rescue) configuration pitched to Canada for a fixed wing solution with SAR capability.

Although the new configuration is under definition and is going to be tailored to the customer’s requirements, it should include, Mission System (palletized solution), a SAR/MTI radar on the nose, a EO/IR turret on the nose, spotter windows and launcher in the cargo bay.

C-27J SAR config

Image of the C-27J SAR configuration (Alenia Aermacchi)

On Nov. 18 the Italian Air Force announced its program to convert six C-27J cargo planes into MC-27J Special Operation, Gunship aircraft.

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

1 Comment

  1. Once again, this most efficient use of this very valuable and expensive airframe will hopefully be in use as it was designed to be employed. The US Coast Guard mission filled by the current HC-144 Ocean Sentry was competing against C-27Js. Now that the money for the full fleet of HC-144s is truncated, the release of C-27J airframes to the US Coast Guard makes a whole lot more sense than tearing out all the expensive equipment already in the aircraft that the USCG requires. The Mobile Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) will only fit in a C-130. It will never fit in a C-27J.

    The US Coast Guard is a Department of Homeland Security organization that polices the American Economic Zone waters, and conducts many operations in concert with the Department of Defense. Sometimes Coasties get shot at. The US Forestry Service does not! Leave the armor in the planes and give them to the Coast Guard. I’m afraid some personalities and previous legislation that did not consider all of the pertinent facts, and the changing reality that this nation’s defense, security, and economy must now deal with, were not, and continue to not be, taken into consideration. If we strip any of these extremely expensive and valuable aircraft down so they can perform marginal functions for the US Forestry Service, instead of performing a primary missions for the US Coast Guard, then we will have thrown away money and actually made our country less safe. How’s them apples? Let’s think clearly people!

    SOCOM has their seven birds. Give the balance to the US Coast Guard, and lets get some C-130 MAFFS-II water-bombers in the US Forestry Service fleet going today. The Coast Guard aircraft have been maintained superbly, and these aircraft will provide great service to the US Forestry Service.

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