Air Transportation: C-27 Still Has Lots Of Fans


June 1, 2014: Peru wants to buy two more C-27J transports ($68 million each) for the Peruvian Air Force. This is in addition to the two ordered last December. Peru wants to buy eight more, but has to find the money first. If they can find the cash the twelve C-27Js would replace twelve Russian An-32s. By buying twelve C-27Js Peru would get the per-aircraft price down to about $60 million each and have a much more effective and reliable military air transport fleet.

The C-27J (a joint U.S./Italian upgrade of the Italian G-222) is a 28 ton two engine aircraft that can carry nine tons for up to 2,500 kilometers and land on smaller and less sturdy airfields than the four engine C-130 or C-17. The C-27 is a popular aircraft, even the older models. The Afghan Air Corps bought 20 C-27As. These Italian made aircraft were easy to fly and very popular with their Afghan pilots. For example, the C-27A can fly as slow as 160 kilometers an hour, with the cargo door open to drop cargo by parachute.

The Afghans ended up getting rid of their C-27s because the rampant corruption in their armed forces made it impossible to adequately maintain the aircraft. The Afghan C-27As were obtained for Afghanistan by the U.S., from the Italian Air Force, for $16 million each. The U.S. Air Force itself bought 10 C-27As in the 1990s, but took them out of service because it was cheaper to fly stuff in the larger C-130. That changed when the air force found itself operating in Afghanistan. That led to a U.S. Army and Air Force deal to buy and jointly operate 78 C-27Js, but that fell apart from lack of cash and air force enthusiasm. The U.S. Air Force was persuaded to give 6 of the C-27Js (and possibly more later) that it did get to U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command).

Despite the problems with corruption and military politics, the C-27J has been popular with its users and the people it serves. It is a reliable aircraft that can operate under primitive conditions and smallish air fields. It also works well at high altitudes, which was a key consideration in mountainous Peru. 

The An-32 is a twin engine transports that is actually a modernized and more recent version of the Russian An-24 transport. The original design is from the early 1960s. The An-32 can carry 6 tons of cargo or up to 50 passengers. Max speed is 540 kilometers an hour and range is 2,500 kilometers. The crew consists of two pilots and a loadmaster. The An-32 is still in production (361 have been built since 1976) and it is used by air forces in India, Bangladesh, and Ukraine. Peru believes the C-27J would be a better investment even though it is more expensive than the An-32s.



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