The C-27J is the largest aircraft employed by the U.S. Army and used in support of Special Operations Forces.
Few days ago, the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command posted on its official Instagram page some photos of one of its less-known assets, the C-27J Spartan. In fact, the command received in 2014 seven C-27J tactical airlifters from the U.S. Air Force when the service decided to dismiss them due to budget cuts, reassigning its missions to C-130s and C-17s.
The Army’s C-27Js are operated, together with the CASA C-212, by the USASOC Flight Company (UFC) located at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, and the USASOC Flight detachment (UFD) located at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG), Arizona. The Special Operations Aviation Training Battalion is the headquarters for both the UFC and UFD, with both units’ primary mission being the support to USASOC CONUS training and logistical requirements.
The main customer of the Army’s C-27Js is the Special Warfare Center’s Military Free Fall School in Yuma, Arizona, where the aircraft performs near continuous freefall training flights throughout the year in support of special operations forces. The school runs four courses: the Basic Parachutist’s Course, the Jumpmaster Course, the Advanced Tactical Infiltration Course (ATIC) and the Instructor Course.
The Army says the C-27J brought to USASOC the capability to conduct pressurized flight and high altitude jump operations, tactical vehicle load training, increased payload for jump and aerial delivery operations, and vastly increased speed and range for supporting outlying ARSOF units. In fact, compared to the C-212, the C-27J allows to load twice as many paratroopers, lowering the cost of each jump.
Last year, the U.S. Army awarded Leonardo a contract to design, modify, integrate and install the 1.2+ avionics update package on both its C-27Js and the 14 HC-27Js assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard. The service said this upgrade will replace the aircraft’s 15-years old avionics, while also maximizing commonality across the fleet. The majority of the work will be performed at Leonardo facilities in Naples, Italy.