The Kenya Air Force is now operating all three of its C-27J Spartan transport aircraft it had ordered, after the third was held back in Italy due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The final aircraft resumed test flights in Italy in May and arrived in Kenya at the beginning of October, where it was handed over in an official ceremony on 2 October. This was attended by Commander of the Kenyan Air Force, Major General Francis Ogolla, and the Italian Ambassador, Alberto Pieri, according to the Italian Embassy in Kenya.
The third aircraft (believed to have registration 226) had been held back in Italy and used to deliver coronavirus relief aid across the country.
Kenya took delivery of its first two C-27Js from Italy’s Leonardo on 30 January this year when they (registration 224 and 222) arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The first Kenyan C-27J was spotted at Leonardo’s facility in Turin, Italy, in September 2018, with another seen in September 2019 during an open day at Turin hosted by Leonardo.
Kenya ordered the three aircraft in late 2017. News of the contract emerged in late June 2018 when it was revealed that Kenya had taken out a loan from Italy’s Unicredit SpA worth Sh20 billion ($198 million) for the three aircraft on 11 December 2017. Repayments were due to begin on 11 June 2019, with the loan maturing a decade later. Kenya also ordered a number of AW139 helicopters in a separate deal.
Kenya’s C-27Js will most likely replace its de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalos.
Kenya is the fourth African nation to order the C-27J after Morocco, Chad and Zambia. Other customers include the Air Forces of Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, United States, Mexico, Australia, Peru and Slovakia.
The Spartan was developed from the G.222/C-27A, using the engines and systems of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules to provide 30% lower operating costs than the G.222 and 35% greater range. It first flew on 24 September 1999.
The Spartan offers the ability to carry up to 60 troops in high density configuration and a maximum of 46 paratroopers. In the medical role 36 stretchers and six attendants can be carried. Normal payload is 9 000 kg for the C-27J, although maximum payload is more than 10 tons.
Leonardo recently initiated an upgrade programme covering improved avionics, communication and winglets. The main benefits of the new avionics system include compliance with new civil aviation regulations as well as obsolescence risk reduction.