The Slovenian government revealed on January 15 that it will acquire up to two Leonardo C-27J Spartan tactical transports after the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted a greater need for a national airlift capability.
The C-27J’s selection comes after Slovenia studied a number of transport options, including Airbus’ C295 and A400M Atlas; Embraer’s C-390 Millennium and Lockheed Martin’s C-130J-30 Super Hercules. Slovenia is now actively studying whether it can purchase the aircraft through a government-government sale process with Italy, in a deal that would include spares, pilot training, life-cycle maintenance and logistics support services. The nation anticipates that it will be able to equip the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) with the tactical transport by 2025.
In a press release, the Slovenian government said: “If the Hercules aircraft was built for the needs of larger armies that can afford higher defence expenditures, the Spartan aircraft is suitable for smaller countries, such as the Republic of Slovenia. The purchase of one C-27J Spartan aircraft will also partially meet the Alliance’s performance targets. Two such aircraft would be needed to fully meet the performance targets.
“If the Ministry of Defence succeeds in purchasing the C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft through the Italian government, we will also avoid potential corruption risks, as the purchase will be made directly through the Italian government,” it added.
The global COVID-19 pandemic exposed a gap in Slovenia’s national airlift capability. It highlighted that the SAF did not have an adequate light transport aircraft to conduct international repatriation flights or deliver protective equipment around its territory. The nation is supported by NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) and Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) programmes for medium- and heavy-lift transport requirements.
“The construction of the national vertical displacement capacity will not replace the participation of the Republic of Slovenia in [these] strategic air transport programmes, but will complement the programmes,” the Slovenian government added.