It has been around for over 30 years. While many of us questioned the choice, and joked about the pilots’ need to get back in time for happy hour, it is hard to argue with the fact that this was perhaps the sexiest aircraft ever flown by the Coast Guard.
DefenseMediaNetwork has a nice tribute to aircraft on the occasion of its retirement.
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.
- 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