HC-27J Spartan Medium-Range Surveillance Aircraft, United States of America


The US Coast Guard (USCG) plans to commission a fleet of 14 HC-27J Spartan medium-range, fixed-wing surveillance aircraft by 2022. HC-27J is a modified surveillance variant of the C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft, manufactured by Italian aerospace and defence company Alenia Aermacchi.

The HC-27J aircraft is intended for USCG missions such as maritime patrol, surveillance, search-and-rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, and disaster response. It is also used to detect, classify and identify maritime targets.

"The HC-27J aircraft is intended for USCG missions such as maritime patrol, surveillance, search-and-rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, and disaster response."

It will join the USCG's medium-range, fixed-wing fleet alongside the HC-144 Ocean Sentry surveillance aircraft.

Development history of HC-27J surveillance aircraft

In December 2013, the US Congress approved the transfer of 14 retired C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft from the US Air Force to the USCG as part of an intra-service transfer, under the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.

All 14 aircraft will undergo regeneration and missionisation to meet the requirements of the USCG, which began regeneration of the aircraft from the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group's facility in Tucson, Arizona, in June 2014. Missionisation of the aircraft is being performed by the C-27J Asset Project Office (APO) in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

Alenia Aermacchi, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, was awarded a contract by the USCG in June 2014 to provide training services for USCG's pilots and loadmasters to perform missions on the HC-27J aircraft.

The C-27J APO received the first regenerated aircraft in November 2014. The second aircraft was delivered in December 2014, followed by the third in July 2015. The fourth regenerated aircraft is expected to be delivered to the APO in 2015.

Alenia North America received a $2.2m contract from the USCG to provide training simulator for the HC-27J aircraft, in June 2015.

Missionisation of the first aircraft is expected to be completed in 2017 and the regeneration of all aircraft is scheduled for completion by 2018.

Design and features of the surveillance aircraft

The HC-27J features a rugged landing gear and has the ability to climb and land quickly. It has a length of 22.7m, wing span of 28.7m, height of 9.65m and maximum weight of 31,751kg.

HC-144A Ocean Sentry is a new maritime patrol aircraft being manufactured by EADS North America for the US Coast Guard (USCG).

Its spacious cabin provides comfortable seating for the troops. The cockpit is fitted with 16 large windows for increased visibility, and the fuselage has bubble windows on both sides. Large doors are provided on both sides of the cargo compartment as well as at the rear section for paratroop drops.

Cockpit and avionics

The night vision goggle-compatible cockpit seats two pilots and one loadmaster. It is integrated with standardised, fixed-wing Minotaur mission system suite and state-of-the-art avionics for improved mission performance and safety.

It is also equipped with advanced military communications, surveillance systems, integrated surface search radar, multi-mode radar, and electro-optical / infrared sensors.

Survivability features

The surveillance aircraft incorporates triple-redundant electrical generators, transformer-rectifier units, alternators, engine restart options, fuel jettison capability, and a dual redundant hydraulic system. The triple-spar wing and vertical tail structures enable a safe flight.

Performance of HC-27J aircraft

The HC-27J is powered by two Rolls-Royce turboprop engines and two six-blade composite propellers. The engines provide high power-to-weight ratio, while the onboard auxiliary power system ensures autonomous operations in difficult weather conditions.

The aircraft can fly at a cruise speed of 290k and a maximum speed of 317k. It has a range of 2,675nm and an endurance of 12 hours, and can perform 3.0g force manoeuvres.