Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR AUG 2015 Contents 35
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 12 | AUG 2015
modules. These include the 6x6 ambulance, 4x4/6x6 carryall and
the 6x6 Surveillance Reconnaissance Vehicle (SRV) now entering
service with the Army’s three Regional Force Surveillance Units.
The 4x4 and 6x6 carryall variants are the primary and most
numerous general-purpose variants of the G-Wagon fleet and the
backbone of Army’s light/lightweight land transport capability.
They are also among those vehicle versions most likely to be re-
quired in ADF regional humanitarian and disaster relief missions.
According to a DMO overview of the Land 121 Phase 3A light/
lightweight vehicle variants containing individual vehicle specifi-
cations and dimensions, the cabin height restriction leaves the dual
cab mobile command post and general maintenance variants as
the only widespread 6x6 G-Wagons able to be transported by the
C-27J, and the less numerous 4x4 panel van and station wagon var-
iants as the only transportable 4x4 variants.
Restrictions imposed by ADF air cargo load standards
(DEF(Aust) 9009A) further exacerbate the cabin height issue, with
clearance requirements especially relevant at the vehicle module
corners, where their box-like shape conflicts with the rounded pro-
file of the C-27J’s cabin ceiling. DTR
Australia joins other C-27J user nations including Bulgaria,
Chad, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Peru and Roma-
nia, with Slovakia to receive the first of two aircraft in 2016.
Retired early following a 2012 decision, some of the 38 C-27J air-
craft previously operated by the US Air Force are being reassigned
to US Special Operations Command and the US Coast Guard.
The C-27J was formally selected for Australia ahead of the Air-
bus C295 in May 2012, after what amounted to a desktop analysis
by Capability Development Group and the Defence Materiel Or-
Whilst the C-27J is recognised as a very capable aircraft in its
own right and will no doubt serve the Australian Defence Force
(ADF) well, the decision taken to source select in the absence of a
tender evaluation was, at the time, widely criticised. The project’s
AUD$1.4 billion price tag also came under scrutiny as being exces-
sive, despite the Government and RAAF claiming the acquisition
represented value for money.
The C-27J was also known to be long favoured by the RAAF
as its preferred Air 8000 Phase 2 solution, and sold heavily by the
service as being able to move heavier and larger loads further and
faster than the C295.
However, the RAAF’s own performance specifications for the
C-27J now indicate a reduced maximum payload of 8,100kg, well
down from the C-27J’s brochure figure of 11,000kg. Single loads
are understood to be restricted to a maximum of around 6,000kg.
This renders the C-27J unable to lift any of the Army’s Supa-
cat-based special operations vehicles (SOV) such as the Nary op-
erated by the Special Air Service Regiment or the 10,500kg gross
vehicle mass SOV-Commando, 89 of which will soon commence
delivery to the 2nd Commando Regiment. In addition, both vehi-
cles would require a significant amount of dunnage on the floor to
The 6,000kg single load restriction would also rule out the
7,000kg Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicle – Light, assuming it
first met the cabin height restriction (read on). Hawkei has a roof
height of 2.3m, with overall height increased close to 3.0m when a
remote weapon system is installed or to approximately 2.45m when
fitted with a manned ring mount (minus softmount/weapon).
During the 2010-2012 period, one of the RAAF’s key selling
points in favour of the C-27J over the C295 was its ability to trans-
port the Army’s new G-Wagon light general service vehicles.
Analysis by DTR, however, makes it clear that the C-27J’s car-
go cabin height renders it unable to accommodate the majority
of G-Wagon single and dual-cab variants fitted with large rear
Back in late 2011/early 2012, the Australian Strategic Policy
Institute conducted its own research into the respective capabilities
of the C-27J and C295 as part of analysis of the aircraft options
for Air 8000 Phase 2, culminating in the publication of an analysis
paper in March 2012 titled Delivering the goods: the ADF’s future
battlefield airlifter. Among the selection criteria was examination of
each aircraft’s cargo carrying capacity and load height limitations
as relevant to the ADF, and that portion of the report is provided
It’s important to understand what an airlifter might be called upon
to move. The ADF moves its stores on standard 463L pallets which
are 2.24m by 2.74m in plan view and typically 1.75 to 2.05m high,
with the C-17 able to transport pallets up to 3.04m high and the
C-130J-30 up to 2.44m high, subject to being within applicable
Ideally, pallets should be able to be transferred from C-17 to
C-130J-30 to BFA without having to break them down and repack
the contents, a task that consumes time and manpower.
For moving personnel, there are different seating configurations
that can be employed, and assumptions have to be made about the
total all-up weight of troops and their personal equipment.
In terms of floor area, the C-27J can accommodate three 463L
pallets, with room for an additional ‘half pallet’. The total cargo
capacity in volume is around 44m3, with a maximum ceiling
height of 2.6m and a height of 2.44m at the wing spar, offering
a maximum pallet/load height of 2.11m. The C295 is longer but
narrower and the cargo space has a lower maximum ceiling height
of 1.9m and a usable height of 1.5m, although the greater floor area
can accommodate the footprint of up to five pallets. According to
Airbus, the C295 has a cargo volume of just under 40m3, excluding
the ramp area.
Due to clearance requirements, neither aircraft can accommodate
the maximum pallet height of 2.44m that a C-130J-30 can carry.
As such, pallets intended for transfer to the BFA from the other
airlifters will have to either be packed to a lower total height (and
hence volume) or broken down and repacked in theatre. However,
there is an additional constraint for the C295 in terms of clearance
around the pallets – the standard pallet footprint is a snug fit,
leaving little room for personnel to move around. The C-27J can
accommodate pallets of up to 2.1m in height and its width should
accommodate a standard pallet with the necessary clearance.
A more serious limitation due to the C295’s lower cabin height
is the size of objects that can be accommodated. This is probably
most significant in the case of vehicles. The ADF’s new cross-
country vehicle, the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon will be fielded in a
number of variants and configurations, but all will be around 2.0m
or more in height and so won’t fit in the C295’s cargo space. Some
variants won’t fit into the C-27J either, but the basic 4x4 and 6x6
mobility variants will1.
Others, such as the reconnaissance and surveillance or
ambulance models would require some disassembly and/or a
multi-role aircraft lift. (Or could be air dropped from a C-130J-30
if necessary.) Similarly, there are a number of vehicles under
consideration for the future ‘protected mobility vehicle - light’ (the
Army’s proposed light armoured vehicle for operations in areas
with a threat from mines, small arms fire or improvised explosive
devices), most of which are too tall for the C295 cargo space.
1 We now know that to be incorrect. The basic 4x4 and 6x6 G-Wagon variants –
designated as ‘Truck, Lightweight, Single Cab, Carryall’ and ‘Truck, Light, Single Cab,
Carryall’ – will NOT fit into the C-27J.
DON’T JUST TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT...
No free ride. The Army’s 4x4
carryall (above left), 6x6
ambulance (above) and 6x6 SRV
(left) are among the G-Wagon
variants too tall to fit inside
the RAAF’s new C-27J Spartan
THE C-27J’S CARGO CABIN
HEIGHT RENDERS IT UNABLE TO
ACCOMMODATE THE MAJORITY
OF G-WAGON VARIANTS
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