C-27J Spartan: 10 Years of Humanitarian Operations

Humanitarian assistance and support in the event of natural disasters are the types of missions typically performed by tactical transport aircraft such as the versatile Leonardo's C-27J Spartan.

Leonardo  29 March 2018

Humanitarian assistance and support in the event of natural disasters are the types of missions typically performed by tactical transport aircraft such as the versatile Leonardo’s C-27J Spartan.

Designed for use in the most extreme conditions, typical of modern operating theatres, the Spartan can easily transport almost 12 tonnes of materials, vehicles, medicines, equipment and people, including health personnel, thanks to its large loading section and its robust landing gear.

The Spartan at the service of the community in Peru (Copyright: Peruvian Air Force)

The Spartan can take off and land on unprepared runways without any assistance on the ground, thanks to the onboard Auxiliary Power Unit and the complete avionics equipment, even in hot and high altitude conditions, operating also in areas where civil infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed. 

Perfect for dual use applications, the C-27J can also perform - whenever it is necessary to reach areas not connected to airports or runways - the precision airdropping of pallets and wrappers which contain basic necessities and first aid items.

Landing on the unprepared runway

The cargo compartment can also be reconfigured very quickly to perform vital Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions, installing up to 36 stretchers to transport people who are injured or in distress. The Spartan can also be used in firefighting missions, through the airdropping of special containers of water or retarding liquid from a safe height, without making any changes to the aircraft.

In the last 10 years, the Spartan has been employed in numerous humanitarian missions to assist people in distress as a result of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, floods or to support health and social emergencies

Let's find out which ones.


The United States Coast Guard (USCG) used its C-27J Spartans intensively to assist the populations that were hit by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017.

From the very first days of the emergency, the C-27Js transported specialised USCG personnel, all-terrain vehicles, lifeboats, medicines and relief supplies. A C-27J from the USCG also conducted post-hurricane reconnaissance missions on Great Inagua island

In 15 days, the USCG Spartans and their crews completed 56 missions, flying 92 hours, carrying 252 people and 52,230 tons of cargo in direct support of first aid operations with no mission needing to be cancelled due to maintenance issues, and deep appreciation from the USCG.

One of the C-27Js employed by the U.S. Coast Guard for the Hurricane Emergency (copyright US Coast Guard)



In the summer of 2017, the rains in Peru were much more intense and longer-lasting than usual and the north of the country was hit heavily (roadways were cut off, waterways burst their banks and rivers of mud swept away homes and people). With the country cut in two, all the C-27Js available to Aerial Group No. 8 of the Peruvian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea del Peru  or FAP) from the Callao base flew non-stop, up to 8 times a day, from the south to the north of the country. During the missions, the aircraft transported several tonnes of basic goods, military support on the ground, hundreds of citizens who needed to reach isolated cities, mechanical equipment and tanks full of fuel to supply the deployed helicopters and aircraft.

A FAP C-27Js loaded with Peruvian citizens needing to be transferred to areas not affected by flooding
(Copyright: Peruvian Air Force)



Chile was struck in 2017 by the largest forest disaster in the country’s recent history with many fronts open over a very large area and thousands of people evacuated. In this emergency situation, the Government of Peru brought aid to its neighbour with its C-27Js, transporting to Chile firefighting equipment and personnel and making lengthy non-stop flights

Displaced people aboard a Peruvian C-27J (Copyright Luis Enrique Saldaña Alvarado / Ministry of Defence of Peru)



On April 2016, a violent earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 degrees on the Richter scale shook Ecuador. To reach remote areas affected by the earthquake, the Peruvian Air Force (FAP) made one of its C-27Js available, aggregating it to an international transport unit consisting of countries all over the Americas. During 15 days of deployment, 59 missions were carried out for a total of over 40 flight hours, flying up to 6 times a day. The Spartan performed excellently, transporting all kinds of material, including food and basic goods, and a large number of evacuees, displaced and wounded persons and military personnel.

Humanitarian aids are disembarked from the FAP’s C-27J in Ecuador (Copyright: Peruvian Air Force)



An Italian Air Force’s C-27J was deployed in late 2013 on the Island of Cebu, in the Philippines, in support of the Italian Civil Protection and the national and international organisations that were mobilised for the emergency caused by the Haiyan Typhoon. The C-27J transported humanitarian materials including tents, water purifiers and 5,000 litre inflatable pillow tanks, medicines, displaced persons, military and civilian personnel employed in rescue operations.

Humanitarian aids disembarking from the C-27J in the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan
(Copyright: Italian Air Force)



In response to the emergency caused by Hurricane Sandy, which in October 2012 hit hard the United States’ East Coast, the U.S. Air National Guard (ANG) carried soldiers and vehicles to New York, including field generators, to assist the victims of the hurricane, using for the first time the C-27J in support of a domestic humanitarian emergency.

C-27J from different ANG squadrons involved in the Hurricane Sandy emergency response
(Copyright Air National Guard)



In sub-Saharan Africa, blindness is a major health and social emergency affecting around 2 million people. In the “Ridare la Luce” (Restore the Light) operation, a Leonardo C-27J, normally used for demonstrations or tests, carried out numerous missions in Mali, in support of the Italian Air Force and the medical teams of A.F.Ma.L (Associazione con i Fatebenefratelli per i Malati Lontani). Thanks to the three mobile rooms for ophthalmic surgery transported by the C-27J, the specialised health teams were able to restore sight to about 3,600 people suffering from diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma and treat patients directly in towns not connected by scheduled flights and that are difficult to reach using other transport aircraft.

The C-27J Spartan in Mali, during the first mission of the “Ridare la Luce” operation in 2007