C-27Js as MPA?–DOD Declares 38 New Aircraft Surplus


Recent DOD statements indicate they intended to “divest” themselves of 38 C-27J. These are all essentially new twin engine aircraft using the engines and glass cockpit of the C-130J. The USAF just released their Air Force Priorities for a New Strategy with Constrained Budgets. Among the “more than 280 aircraft have been identified in the current budget submission for elimination across all Air Force components over the next five years” are 21 C‐27s. (I believe the remaining 17 aircraft are owned by the Army.)

If the Coast Guard could “missionize” these aircraft as they are doing the HC-144A and use them as Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) instead of buying more HC-144As, the service might save close to a billion dollars and get an aircraft that is more capable in almost every respect, and have them sooner. My understanding is that the Coast Guard originally wanted the CASA C-295 which is very close in specification to the C-27J. In many respects, its capabilities approach those of the C-130H. I think it might be worth a look.

The total “revised baseline” for the MPA program is $2.4B for 36 aircraft. The Coast Guard has accepted or contracted for 15 HC-144s. The fifteenth HC-144A cost $41M. If we assume the CG obtains 21 C-27Js instead of 21 HC-144As and assuming a savings of $40M each, that would be $840M. Enough to buy a new polar icebreaker, or two or three ice strengthened cutters, or perhaps three or four OPCs.

This was originally an Army program, handed over to the Air Force. These aircraft were purchased for infra-theater supply using airfields that were too small for the C-130. That need never really surfaced, C-130s, that they had in abundance, could perform all the supply missions and was more efficient in the cargo transport role. The first C-27J was delivered in 2008. Most were delivered in the last two years.

General characteristics

  • Crew: Minimum two: pilot, co-pilot, (plus loadmaster when needed)
  • Capacity: 60 troops or 46 paratroops or 36 litters with 6 medical personnel
  • Payload: 11,500 kg (25,353 lb)
  • Length: 22.7 m (74 ft 6 in)
  • Wingspan: 28.7 m (94 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 9.64 m (31 ft 8 in)
  • Wing area: 82 m2 (880 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 17,000 kg (37,479 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 30,500 kg (67,241 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce AE2100-D2A turboprop, 3,460 kW (4,640 hp) each
  • Propellers: 6-bladed Dowty Propeller 391/6-132-F/10, 4.15 m (13 ft 7 in) diameter


  • Maximum speed: 602 km/h (374 mph; 325 kn)
  • Cruising speed: 583 km/h (362 mph; 315 kn)
  • Minimum control speed: 194 km/h; 121 mph (105 kn)
  • Range: 1,852 km (1,151 mi; 1,000 nmi) with 10,000 kilograms (22,000 lb) payload
  • Range at 6,000 kg payload: 4,260 km (2,650 mi; 2,300 nmi)
  • Ferry range: 5,926 km (3,682 mi; 3,200 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 9,144 m (30,000 ft)

Here are the characteristics of the HC-144A for comparison.

  • Airframe Manufacturer: EADS/CASA, Spain
  • Wing Span: 84ft. 8in.
  • Wing Area: 636sq.ft.
  • Height: 26ft. 10in.
  • Length: 70ft. 3in.
  • Max Gross Weight: 36,380 lbs
  • Empty Weight: 21,605 lbs
  • Propulsion: Two General Electric CT7-93C Turboprop
  • Speed: 236 kts
  • Range: 1,565 nm
  • Endurance: 8.7 h
  • Minumum Crew: Two

Mexico takes delivery of MPA–Their Version of HC-144

The Mexican Navy has taken delivery of the first of four Airbus Military CN235 aircraft equipped as Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) paralleling the Coast Guard’s own planned procurement of 36 CN235s as HC-144A.

The delivery was made through EADS North America under the Mérida Initiative, a joint program between the US Government and the Government of Mexico.

Acquisitions Directorate Newletter, Feb 2011

The new Acquisitions Directorate Newsletter for February 2011 is available here. The topics are

  • Coast Guard Awards Contracts for National Security Cutters 4 & 5
  • The Ocean Sentry: The Coast Guard’s Multi-Mission Aircraft

Plus Command Master Chief Ayer answers the question, “I see you have a project to replace the current Response Boat-Small with a new RB-S. What about other vessels and boats that are a lot older, are you planning to replace them?  How do you decide which assets get replaced?”

HC-144 Gun Ship?

An American company (ATK, Alliant Techsystems Inc now part of Northrop Grumman), is modifying the same basic airframe used for the Coast Guard HC-144 (the EADS CASA, now Airbus Military, CN-235) into a miniature AC-130 for the Jordanian Air Force. Source. (Note due to a broken link I have updated the post with an alternative source for the story.)

File:HC-144A Ocean Sentry (2).jpg

Image: http://cgig.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=231228&g2_imageViewsIndex=1

“ATK will install and integrate electro-optical targeting systems, a laser designator, aircraft self-protection equipment, and an armaments capability that includes Hellfire laser-guided missiles, 2.75-inch rockets, and a M230 link-fed 30mm chain gun.  ATK’s M230 family of guns serves on the Apache helicopter….ATK’s scope of work includes development, systems integration, aircraft modification, and testing.  Work will be performed in Jordan and at ATK facilities in Fort Worth, TX, Mesa, AZ and Pelham, AL.”

Looks like if we ever want to add an “airborne use of force” to these  aircraft, there is a source that will have already had the experience.