European Spartan 2021, C-27J users train together to boost interoperability

European Spartan exercise Bulgaria
Slovak Air Force C-27J Spartan multirole transport aircraft takes off from Plovdiv Air Base, Bulgaria, during European Spartan 2021 exercise.

October 8, 2021 - After two weeks of operational activity, the European Spartan 2021 multinational air exercise ends today at Plovdiv Air Base, Bulgaria. The European Spartan is an annual exercise organized by the C-27J community together with the EDA (European Defense Agency) and hosted in rotation by each of the five member nations (Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia). This year's edition (the fifth) was organized by the Bulgarian Air Force after a year off due to Covid. In 2019 it took place in Romania.

The exercise is part of EDA’s dedicated C-27J project where the five C-27J users identify and develop common projects in the domains of operations, training, logistics, procurement, airworthiness and SESAR (Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research) to achieve a high level of interoperability and cost-efficient operating and maintenance models.

European Spartan exercise Bulgaria

Tactical training

The C-27J Spartan aircraft has proved itself a truly multi-mission platform across every continent in the world – both in the most demanding military operational contexts and humanitarian roles. It resulted particularly suitable to perform tactical missions in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, providing direct air transport to the theatre, day and night. The Spartan Exercise is also focused on those types of operations, training C-27J crews to fly low level, tactical navigations in different scenarios. Several airfields in Bulgaria have been chosen for training: at Cheshnegirovo airfield, crews are performing Tactical Approaches, Personnel Airdrops and Aerial Cargo Delivery, whereas Bezmer Air Base was chosen to simulate EROs (engine running operations) for medical evacuations. Operators from the Bulgarian Joint Special Operation Command as well as a Combat Control Team from the Special Forces of the Italian Air Force also take part in the exercise.

European Spartan exercise Bulgaria

EDA’s C-27J cooperation concept

The European Defence Agency (EDA) has identified opportunities to work together with the European C-27J Spartan users to develop a far reaching level of interoperability as well as more cost efficient solutions for the operation and the support of the C27J. The activity finds its reference to the European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) scheme. The EATF is a program launched by the EDA in 2011 to improve the interoperability, operational capability and availability of the military transport fleets of the participating nations.   

The main goals of the program include the optimization of human and financial resources, the reduction of costs and the development of concrete projects in the area of operations, training, logistics, procurement, airworthiness and SESAR.

European Spartan exercise Bulgaria

Activity description

At present, five European Member States operate the C-27J and one is acquiring it. EDA proposes to identify opportunities to pool expertise, human and technological resources to share common capabilities and reduce costs. As a “community of users”, C-27J operators are encouraged to identify concrete means to harmonise operations and training (common tactics, techniques and procedures, harmonisation of pilot training, etc.) or through the EATF partnership by attending European Air Transport Training events.

Proposals to pool logistics or maintenance are developed and EDA mechanisms such as Effective Procurement Methods and Sharing of Spare Parts could facilitate this process. Further transversal projects regarding airworthiness and common procurement for the C27J are implemented. Finally,recent SES regulatory processes, in particular those related to the deployment of Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) require immediate attention in order to preserve effective operational access to and integration within the airspace. This is the case for instance for insertion of new technologies and upgraded equipment. Hence this C27J AHWG will address these issues collectively for the C27J Spartan.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source: European Defence Agency (EDA)
Images: Bulgarian Air Force

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