The US Coast Guard pilots will soon be flying the Alenia Aermacchi C-27J, an Italian transport plane, under a transfer from the U.S. Air Force.
Alenia North America reported 14 of the twin turbo-engine aircraft will be transferred to the Coast Guard and will begin flight operations within six to 12 months.
According to Benjamin Stone, president and chief executive officer of Alenia Aermacchi’s North American business unit, the C-27J will be able to support medium and long range surveillance capabilities enhancing the coast guards’ ability to cover specific areas of interest. "With this transfer, the USCG will receive an aircraft with the advanced medium surveillance capabilities needed to further enhance its ability to perform critical missions."
Transfer of the aircraft to the Coast Guard was approved under the 2014 Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on 26 December, 2013.
The guard currently operates the EADS/CASA CN-235 HC-144 ‘Ocean Sentry’ aircraft for that mission. First delivered in 2006, the USCG currently operates 15 such aircraft, and planned to but 20 more. The availability of the 14 C-27Js will obviously change these plans. It will also provide the guard the opportunity to compare operational costs and determine which aircraft of the two provides more economical for its mission profile.
Alenia said its C-27J boasts the highest power-to-weight ratio in its class, thus providing USCG with greater range, endurance, speed and payload capacity over the twin turboprops currently in its inventory.
The C-27J is a turboprop aircraft with a cruise speed of 362 miles per hour. It first came into service with the Italian air force in 2006.