A recent photo by AFM contributor Marco Rossi may show the first Leonardo C-27J Spartan for the Zambian Air Force (ZAF). Still wearing the provisional test registration C.S.X.62307, the ‘white tail’ aircraft is the latest Spartan to come off the production line.
The photo was taken on July 30, while C.S.X.62307 was landing at Turin-Caselle airport, home of Leonardo’s main facility, at the end of its fourth test flight (its maiden sortie was conducted on July 17).
In September 2015 Alenia Aermacchi (then Leonardo) announced that an undisclosed African air force had ordered two C-27Js, becoming the third African customer after Chad and Morocco.
Last December, the ZAF deputy commander Maj Gen David Muma confirmed the deal, stating at the time that the first example was expected to be delivered in 2018.
Leonardo has not yet officially disclosed the identity of the African customer and this may explain why the aircraft doesn’t yet wear any national insignia or code.
Recent reports in Italian and Kenyan media suggest that Leonardo has won orders from Kenya for up to four C-27J airlifters and an undisclosed number of AW139 helicopters in a contract worth around €220m.
The Kenyan government confirmed it’s arranged two loans to pay for the Spartans which, unconfirmed reports suggest, will be the first fitted with a new avionics suite. They’re now expected to be delivered from next year.