|The Alenia Aerospace C-27J Spartan, one of the expected competitors for the Medium Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft program.|
Photo taken from Wikimedia.
Here is the summary of the Technical Specifications for the said program:
- Requirement is for 3 brand-new units, and will be used for Airborne Operations, Aero-Medical Evacuation, Passenger Transport, and Limited Maritime Patrol and Search and Rescue Operations;
- For the aircraft to do such missions, it has to be equipped with paratroop seats, capable of static and free fall paradrop operations, must be able to accomodate at least twelve (12) litters, must accommodate at least 40 seated passengers, and must be convertible from full-cabin military transport to maritime patrol aircraft;
- A minimum range of 950 nautical miles (nm) without refueling;
- A minimum payload of 11,000 pounds (lbs) with maximum fuel load;
- An endurance of at least 4 hours and 30 minutes;
- A minimum crusing speed of 230 knots and a service ceiling of at least 25,000 feet;
- Must be capable of loading at least four (4) palletized cargo with dimensions of 2.5m x 2.0m x 1.6m and has a ramp loading capability;
- Short Take-off and Landing Capable, maximum of 1,000m length;
- Communications to include VHF-AM/FM/Marine Band and HF radios and provision for future upgrades;
- Autopilot capable, with GPS, Traffic Collision Avoidance System, Ground Proximity Warning System, Colored Weather Radar, Glass Cockpit;
- Programmed to fly 500 hours/year for thirty (30) years;
- Paint Scheme to follow the current Fokker F-27s with the 220th Airlift Wing (white and grey, as indicated).
|According to the technical specifications, the paint scheme shown above will be followed for the Medium Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft requirement.|
Photo taken from DND.
As discussed before, there are 3 expected competitors which already made known their interest to join the bidding:
1. Alenia Aerospace (Italy) with the C-27J Spartan,
2. EADS/CASA - Airbus Military (Spain/EU) with the C-295,
3. PT Dirgantara Indonesia / Indonesian Aerospace (PT DI / IAe) with the CN-235.
(Discussions regarding the 3 aircraft models are discussed HERE).
Looking at the above summarized specifications, MaxDefense believes that all 3 aircraft meet the required range, payload, cruising speed, endurance, and STOL requirements. All 3 can also do the required mission profiles, although it appears that the C-27J is weak with regards to configuration for limited Maritime Patrol since this aircraft has no MPA variants so far, unlike the CN-235 and C-295 which has palletized MPA suite as an option, although MaxDefense believes the DND/PAF won't avail of them for this program. The C-27J is also weak with regards to pricing, as the minimum requirements is enough for its 2 cheaper competitors to fit the requirement albeit a lesser capability. These 2 parameters is where the CN-235 and C-295 may beat the more capable C-27J.
|CASA-EADS's C-295 (above) is the middle-spec'd of the 3 possible competitors.|
Photo taken from Wikimedia.
|The IAe's CN-235 (above) is the cheapest of all the possible offers, but is it the aircraft to beat? Let's see in a couple of weeks.|
Photo taken from Wikimedia.
Although the CN-235 claims to be able to carry 4 108" length x 88" height (2.74m length x 2.24m width) pallets, it can only do so with the ramp opened and flat, as shown on the photo below:
|For the CN-235, only 3 pallets of 2.74m length each can be carried by closed ramp, and will need an open supported ramp to carry a 4th pallet, as shown above.|
Photo taken from nifc.gov and EADS.
The DND requirement is for 4 pallets with dimensions of each pallet at 2.5m length x 2.0m width x 1.6m height. Thus, 4 pallets will require a little more than 10.0m cargo space length to fit. The DND is not clear though if the 4th pallet can be placed on an open but flat supported ramp. As shown on the photo below, the CN-235 only has a cabin length of 9.65 meters excluding the ramp. If including the winch, the space becomes less. 4 pallets as required by the technical specifications require a cabin space of at least 10.0 meters excluding the ramp and winch space.
So it appears that the CN-235 may not be capable of meeting the cabin space requirements of the DND as specified in the technical specifications, except if the DND will accept the ramp area as a possible space. More of the report regarding the CN-235 HERE.
The Alenia C-27J Spartan may have the same problem as the CN-235 due to its short fuselage length, the aircraft being shorter than even the CN-235 by around 3.0 meters. Some sources quote the cabin length as only at 8.58 meters, shorter than CN-235's 9.65 meters including winch.
|The C-27J's length is shorter than even the CN-235 although it meets the width and height requirements for cargo fuselage.|
The only parameters in which will either chop off some of the bidders will be the other requirements in the specifications, specifically the Eligibility Documentation portion, where many bidders in other procurement projects fail to pass. Take note that Daewoo/Daesun failed in this portion for the Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) project, while Sikorsky failed in this regard for the Light Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft project.
Another parameter that needs to be given a second look are the Maintenance Requirements, which include flying hours required before overhaul of the airframe, powerplant, propeller, landing gears and other major aircraft components. These information are usually not made known publicly by aircraft manufacturers and may only be included on previous offers made to PAF and DND.
So although the C-295 seems to be the aircraft to beat in this program, we cannot finally say that until the bidding actually proceeds and everyone pass the initial requirements as indicated in the specification checklists, and also when DND makes a decision. There could still be some hook-ups along the way for any of the 3 potential bidders, although this is actually a good fight to watch.
October 26, 2013:
The bid submission and opening was moved from October 29, 2013 to November 11, 2013. This is according to the new Supplemental Bid Bulletin issued by the DND on October 21, 2013. No word if bidders requested the schedule change or if DND's decision.
November 12, 2013:
Another adjustment on the schedule for this project. The bid submission and opening was moved again, now to November 18, 2013. This is according to the new Supplemental Bid Bulletin issued by the DND on November 11, 2013. No official reason why it was moved but it is possible that the bidders requested for an extension.
January 14, 2014:
Only 2 bidders submitted in the bid submission and opening for this project on January 13, 2014, namely EADS-CASA (Airbus Military) and PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI / Indonesian Aerospace). Of the two entities, only EADS-CASA's bid using the C-295 was found eligible, while PT DI's bid failed to meet the requirements with its CN-235. More on MaxDefense's latest blog on this project.