The first Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan transport aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) made its maiden flight on 19 December.
The twin-turboprop airlifter departed Alenia's production facility in Italy for its inaugural sortie, marking a major milestone in Australia's AUD1.4 billion (USD1.2 billion) contract for 10 aircraft.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), Warren King, the C-27J programme remains on budget and on schedule for delivery of the first two aircraft to the RAAF in 2015.
The air force has reformed 35 Squadron to operate the C-27J out of RAAF Richmond in New South Wales, and expects to declare initial operating capability for the type in 2016.
Procured under Phase 2 of the Project AIR 8000 requirement to replace the RAAF's now-retired DHC-4 Caribous, the C-27J will augment the Beechcraft King Air 350, Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules, and Boeing C-17 Globemaster III in providing Australia's fixed-wing air mobility.