The Kenya Air Force is expected to soon take delivery of its three new C-27J Spartan transport aircraft, with Kenyan aircraft seen flying in Italy.
A Kenya Air Force C-27J took part in a flying display in Italy along with a Eurofighter Typhoon over the weekend of 21-22 September during an open day hosted by manufacturer Leonardo.
The first Kenyan C-27J was spotted at Leonardo’s facility in Turin, Italy, in September 2018, with deliveries expected this year.
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. Repayment 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 apparently be equipped with winglets and a new avionics suite meeting civil and military requirements, and 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.
Zambia recently took delivery of its two C-27Js, with one seen in South Africa in late August this year. They were first spotted in Italy in July 2018 and were still there by February this year. In Zambian service, the C-27Js will most likely replace the Air Force’s BAe 748s and supplement its Y-12 and MA60 transport aircraft.
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.