Slovenia takes over first Spartan military aircraft
Slovenia welcomed the first of the two C-27J Spartan tactical military aircraft that it agreed to purchase from Italy at a handover ceremony at Cerklje ob Krki air base on 20 December. The aircraft will be used both for military purposes and in disaster relief efforts.
Addressing the ceremony, Defence Minister Marjan Šarec said that after many years of stagnation, the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) are on the path of development and modernisation.
"If we want to recruit new staff and put the SAF in the place it belongs to, we must invest in research and development and engage Slovenian know-how," he said.
A ceremony held at Cerklje ob Krki airbase to welcome the arrival of the first of two C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft purchased by Slovenia from Italy. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA
The Defence Ministry said that, in order to maintain uninterrupted airworthiness, Slovenia needed to have at least two transport aircraft at its disposal, which were expected to perform both combat and humanitarian tasks.
With the C-27J Spartan, the shortage that become apparent during the Covid-19 epidemic, when Slovenia did not have adequate airlift capabilities, has also been addressed, the ministry said.
The SAF will use the aircraft for the transport of soldiers, cargo, equipment and vehicles, for making drops of cargo and paratroopers, medical transport of SAF members or evacuation of citizens, and other similar tasks.
A passenger transport module and a firefighting module in the form of an eight-tonne water tank have also been ordered for the aircraft.
Janez Gaube, the commander of the 15th Military Aviation Regiment of the SAF, said that two crews had already been trained for 70% of the operations performed by the Spartan.
Training will continue on 15 January at Maribor airport, as the runway at Cerklje ob Krki is awaiting renovation.
The first of two C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft purchased by Slovenia from Italy arrives at Cerklje air base. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA
As part of the ceremony, the ribbon was also cut by Italian Lieutenant General Luciano Portolano, which marked the symbolic handover of the aircraft manufactured by Leonardo from the Italian Defence Ministry.
Slovenia purchased the aircraft for €48.8 million under an agreement signed just over two years ago by the then Defence Minister Matej Tonin. It ordered another one in September. The two aircraft have the same configuration.
The total cost of the procurement of two C-27J Spartan aircraft, including all modules and logistical support, insurance, certification costs, management costs and administrative costs, amounts to €128.9 million, according to the ministry.