Tag: C-27J Spartan

Leonardo Unveils New Firefighting Configuration For The C-27J Next Generation

No Comments
Leonardo Unveils New Firefighting Configuration For The C-27J Next Generation
C-27J Firefighter
A rendering showing the C-27J in the firefighting configuration while releasing fire retardant liquid. (Image: Leonardo)

The versatile C-27J cargo aircraft will be able to perform this mission thanks to the roll-on/roll off MAFFS system.

Leonardo unveiled on its website a new firefighting configuration that will further expand the mission set of the C-27J Spartan Next Generation cargo aircraft. The company was already working for some years on this project, studying the various options, but the choice in the end went to the second generation, roll-on/roll-off Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS II).

The C-27J NG will now be able to follow the footsteps of its predecessor, the G-222 (also known as C-27A), which was adapted to the firefighting role by equipping it with a system inspired by the early versions of the MAFFS, called Sistema Aeronautico Antincendio (Aeronautic Firefighting System). Four aircraft were built in this configuration for the Italian Air Force.

In the last few years, we saw an increase in the number of fires around the world, whose growing complexities are forcing the individual countries to deal with the challenge in an integrated manner, increasing the firefighting capabilities while taking the specific needs of each country into account. Those fires often spread on large areas and last many days, requesting a lot of resources to deal with them effectively. One of those resources, which is being increasingly employed in those situations, is the aerial firefighting aircraft.

As highlighted by Leonardo, an effective firefighting system has to meet a number of requirements: reach remote inland areas that are cut off from the sea or other water basins; optimise emergency response times; reduce environmental impact; employ multi-mission solutions that can cut aircraft operating costs, while ensuring their continuous use, even in the winter months; ensure the availability of a vast number of common platforms with elevated operational flexibility that can deal with a variety of different missions, and the “aircraft system” must have a high degree of interoperability with the assets on the ground.

<img data-attachment-id="79625" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/05/20/c-27j-firefighting-configuration/c-27j_firefighter_maffs_2/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/C-27J_FireFighter_MAFFS_2.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,405" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="C-27J_FireFighter_MAFFS_2" data-image-description data-image-caption="

A rendering showing the internal configuration of the C-27J with the MAFFS II installed. (Image: Leonardo)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-6.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-2.jpg” class=”size-large wp-image-79625″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-2.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”279″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-2.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-6.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-7.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-8.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/C-27J_FireFighter_MAFFS_2.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

A rendering showing the internal configuration of the C-27J with the MAFFS II installed. (Image: Leonardo)

Aircraft, which are at the heart of this integrated firefighting system, are the most powerful tool available to assist ground personnel fighting the flames. The C-27J’s Fire Fighter configuration proposed by Leonardo, considered the state-of-the-art in airborne firefighting capabilities, is a flexible solution, ideal for enhancing the capabilities of the C-27J Next Generation multi-mission aircraft and has significantly lower purchasing and operating costs than a dedicated firefighting platform, since it can be used for a multitude of missions instead of just a specialized role.

In around 90 minutes, the C-27J can be transformed from a tactical transport aircraft to an aerial firefighter, thanks to the palletised Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System II (MAFFS II), developed by United Aeronautical Corporation, a world leader in advanced aerial application systems. The MAFFS was first developed in the 1970’s to equip U.S. Air Force’s C-130s so they could help civilian agencies to fight fires, should they need additional assets. A newer variant, the MAFFS II, became operational in the 2000s.

The system consists in the installation in the C-27’s cargo bay of a removable tank with a capacity of over 8,000 litres of water or 7,600 litres of fire-retardant liquid. A complete set of tools that includes a pressurised tank, an outlet nozzle, a pressurised door, and a ground support system. The MAFFS II discharges the water or the retardant through a special plug in the paratroop drop door on the side of the aircraft, rather than requiring the cargo ramp door to be opened like on the original MAFFS.

According to Leonardo, the C-27’s Firefighting configuration is not intended to completely replace amphibious firefighting aircraft like the Canadair CL-415. Instead, it is designed so both types of aircraft can be used in a complementary way to optimize firefighting effectiveness even in complex environmental or morphological conditions, such as high distance of the basins, adverse weather conditions (high waves, bad weather), or to support operations at low visibility and night.

<img data-attachment-id="79626" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/05/20/c-27j-firefighting-configuration/c-27j_firefighter_maffs_3/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/C-27J_FireFighter_MAFFS_3.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,683" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="C-27J_FireFighter_MAFFS_3" data-image-description data-image-caption="

File photo of a MAFFS II being loaded on a C-130H. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-9.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-3.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79626″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-3.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-3.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-9.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-10.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/leonardo-unveils-new-firefighting-configuration-for-the-c-27j-next-generation-11.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/C-27J_FireFighter_MAFFS_3.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

File photo of a MAFFS II being loaded on a C-130H. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The C-27J-based firefighting solution is just the latest of the rapidly reconfigurable roles to which the aircraft has been adapted since its entry into service. This multi-functionality proved extremely useful for a variety of civil protection operations, other than the aircraft’s traditional military roles. A multitude of kits and easy-to-install, transportable roll-on/roll-off mission systems allow the C-27J to be rapidly transformed into the required configuration for the mission at hand.

As a tactical airlifter, the aircraft’s versatility also extends to airlifting cargo and troops; airdropping parachutists and supplies; medical battlefield evacuation; VIP transportation; natural disaster response and humanitarian assistance and support. In fact, during the crucial stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, the aircraft was primarily used for transporting medical supplies and equipment, ferrying medical personnel and coronavirus patients, and, in some cases, for complex transport operations that required the use of bio-containment kits.

About Stefano D’Urso
Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.

The RAAF Redefines The Role Of The C-27J Spartan For Humanitarian Disaster Relief

No Comments
RAAF C-27J
A Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan aircraft during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021. (Photo: Jacqueline Forrester/Royal Australian Air Force)

The RAAF C-27J Spartan will enhance the role of the Defence helicopters thanks to its higher range and flexibility.

The Australian Department of Defence announced that the role of the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) C-27J Spartan is being redefined to enhance the Department’s support for humanitarian disaster relief, crisis response and regional engagements, allowing the country to better respond to natural disasters in Australia and its near region, regional engagement across the Indo-Pacific and the Australian Defence Force’s military logistics and air mobility capability.

The Chief of the RAAF, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, said the Spartan’s capabilities were aligned with Defence’s strategic objectives to shape Australia’s strategic environment, deter actions against the nation’s interests and when required, respond with credible military force. The RAAF has been working for some years to introduce new capabilities on the C-27J, like the Compact Rescue Systems for Search And Rescue (SAR) missions, and already used the cargo aircraft during emergency scenarios like the bushfire crisis.

“The Spartan demonstrated its specific capabilities during the 2019/20 Australian bushfire crisis by safely evacuating 2,400 fire-affected community members and resupplying remote communities that were inaccessible by larger aircraft, which included moving 300,000 kilograms of cargo,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said. “The Spartan conducted these missions at a range that exceeded the ability of Defence helicopters because of its flexibility and the inherent operational characteristics of a light tactical fixed wing aircraft.”

RAAF C-27J Spartan delivers humanitarian stores to assist PNG in its fight against COVID-19. The Australian Defence Force provided airlift support to deliver vital COVID-19 equipment as part of a whole-of-Australian-Government effort to respond to a Papua New Guinea Government request for assistance. (Photo: Tim Shaw/Royal Australian Air Force)

The importance of the C-27J Spartan for the RAAF has been proved again recently both during international exercises and real contingency response missions where it provided assistance to regional neighbours. “The use of the Spartan on exercises such as Arnhem Thunder and Talisman Sabre to deliver vital stores to expeditionary airbases, showcases its ability to reach remote and austere airbases”, said the Head of Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts. “And it has also recently transported medical supplies and equipment to Port Moresby to assist PNG in the fight against COVID-19; as well as contributed to Australia’s support to regional maritime security and fisheries protection on the high seas through deployments on Operations Resolute and Solania.”

The No. 35 Squadron, based at RAAF Base Amberly, operates a fleet of 10 C-27J Spartan aircraft, the first of those arrived in Australia in 2015. The multi-mission military transport aircraft complements the larger C-17 Globemaster III and C-130J Super Hercules within the Australian air mobility fleet, conducting a wide variety of missions which span from the airlift of cargo loads, to the airdrop of paratroops, to the aeromedical evacuation and SAR support.

Needless to say, the humanitarian disaster relief support role of the RAAF C-27J is just one of the missions the Spartan can carry out. Its mission flexibility is proved by the wide variety of missions the aircraft conduct flying with several operators all around the world. Today Leonardo’s C-27J Spartan is considered one of the most effective multi-mission airlifters of its category, the only one specifically designed to support the “last mile” operations, with significant combat experience.

For instance, the JCA (Joint Cargo Aircraft) – the US C-27J Spartan – had its combat debut in Afghanistan in 2011, supporting coalition forces at forward operating bases with airlift and airdrop mission. As often explained here at The Aviationist, the Italian Air force is among the Spartan operators still successfully performing in the most hostile areas, flying as an airlifter in the Afghan and Iraqi theatres. Moreover, the EC-27J JEDI, a derivative version extensively modified to perform Electronic Warfare missions, is still deployed to Erbil, Iraq supporting the coalition against Daesh and last February the unit celebrated the achievement of 5,000 flight hours flown by EC-27J JEDI over Iraq since Aug. 10, 2016.

Also the Romanian Air Force operated their C-27Js aircraft in Afghanistan, while the Lithuanian Air Force, another operator that can rely on Spartan’s DASS defence system, further to Afghanistan and Iraq, deployed in 2014 its C-27Js in support to the French-led operation Sangaris, aimed at stabilizing the security situation in the Central African Republic. In addition, all of the above Air Forces use the C-27J as protected VIP transport, where particular safety care is needed.

Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.
David Cenciotti is a freelance 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 four books.

M-346 In Exotic Color Scheme For Undisclosed Export Customer Breaks Cover

No Comments
M-346 exotic color scheme
An M-346 Master in a new exotic color scheme about to land at Venegono airport on May 28, 2021. (All images: Oscar Bernardi)

An M-346 sporting the color scheme resembling the one applied to the Turkmenistan or Azerbaijan’s jets has been spotted in Italy last week.

A pretty interesting M-346 “Master” sporting a camouflage paint scheme quite close to the one used by the combat aircraft of the Turkmen or the Azerbaijani Air Force was spotted at Venegono airport, in northwestern Italy, after its first flight, by photographer Oscar Bernardi, on May 28, 2021.

The aircraft was reportedly involved in the very first flight in the new livery.

Although the export customer for the Italian advanced jet trainer has not been officially confirmed yet (we have reached out to Leonardo media relations who told us they do not comment images taken by spotters or photographers outside their facilities), the sighting confirms the “Master” is being reading for another operator. Which one is difficult to say, considered that both Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan have been in talks with Leonardo about the jet and they use almost identical color schemes.

M-346 exotic color scheme
Another image of the M-346 Master destined to an unknown export customer.

According to some rumours, the one depicted in the photos taken by Bernardi should be the first aircraft for the Turkmen Air Force that, in May 2018, was showcased both the M-346 and the C-27J tactical airlifter.

The Turkmen Air Force is believed to have placed an order for six M-346 jets. As reported by Defense and Security Monitor last year, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs “reported to the Senate on details of the export of armaments in 2019. Turkmenistan featured prominently in the report, having become the second-largest export customer for the year, after Egypt. Ashgabat purchased €446.1 million of unspecified Italian military products in 2019. The MFA report did not break down the type of equipment Turkmenistan ordered, but it did indicate that unnamed customers had purchased six M-346 jet trainers and eight AW139 helicopters. BMPD, the unofficial blog of the Russian think tank Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, concluded it is likely Turkmenistan is the unnamed customer for the aircraft.”

Noteworthy, in December 2020 we reported about a brand new C-27J Next Generation that flew for the first time from Turin Caselle airport, home of Leonardo’s facilities, sporting a color scheme with a dark and light brown camouflage quite close to be one used by the Turkmenistan Air Force An-74.

M-346 exotic color scheme
The M-346 Master with experimental registration CSX55623.

David Cenciotti is a freelance 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 four books.