US forces receive new generation transport planes


C-27J Spartan, a tactical transport aircraft

NEW YORK (BNS): The US Armed Forces has received its first C-27J Spartan, a tactical transport aircraft designed and manufactured in Italy. The US had ordered 78 Spartans last year as part of its Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) programme for the army and air force.

The $2.04 billion contract was won by Italy's military-aviation consortium Finmeccanica's two subsidiaries Alenia Aeronautica and Alenia North America and its US partner L-3.

Keeping with the deadline, the plane was delivered in Waco, Texas to the US Armed Forces. "The delivery of the first C-27J Spartan to the US Armed Forces shows Finmeccanica's capability to assert itself, also at an international level, by offering excellent technological products," said a statement released by Finmeccanica.

"The C-27J JCA is a project we are especially proud of: it is in fact the greatest export success ever obtained for an aircraft designed and manufactured in Italy and has been delivered to the customer on time and on budget. This achievement is shared with our US partner L-3 and the Finmeccanica team, especially Alenia Aeronautica and its subsidiary Alenia North America: managers, engineers, technicians and workers who have been working for many years on this important project," said Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, chairman and CEO of Finmeccanica.

The US has projected requirement of 145 of these planes out of which, its army would use 75 and the air force the remaining 70. In the next 10 years, US military plans to add at least 200 transport aircraft estimated to cost around $6 billion. With the order, the aircraft has become the biggest success story for any flying machine designed and manufactured in Italy. It now hopes to showcase the aircraft to other countries. C-27J is a multi-role aircraft containing high performance features. It is efficient and also has operational effectiveness.

The first delivery was made around three months after its first flight in June this year at the Flight Test Centre of Alenia Aeronautica's Caselle plant near Turin when it flew over Atlantic to reach Canada and the US where it was integrated with some specific components ordered by the US Army. The second aircraft would be delivered by November 2008.

The Italian company is upbeat, as it has already made impressive entry into the US market. Its Augusta Westland helicopter has become part of the US presidential fleet. The company is also making significant contribution in the development of Boeing 737 Dreamliner.


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