This equipment program originally involved the acquisition of 12 C-27Js, of which the last 4 of the program would be of the configuration for use as aerial tankers
A very pleasant surprise awaited today the attendees of the “VIP Day” of the multinational, cross-sectoral exercise “Balkan Shield 2022”, with the participation of seven states of the region, or at least those who knew about it… “detail”, from the participation in this scenario for the first time of a C-27J Spartan transport aircraft of the historic 354 Tactical Transport Squadron (354 MTM) in a free-fall parachute drop mission!
When the signatory, after the end of the exercise, pointed out this “detail” to the GEETHA Chief General K. Floros, who had approached the journalists’ table, he confirmed it, saying: “You are right to point it out. This was the first PUBLIC parachute drop, as there have been a few more test ones. Now we “work” on the issue of dropping parachutes with a static strap and loads, because dropping parachutes free is technically easier. In what we are doing now and we will not be late, as the contribution of our Romanian friends, partners and allies, who have been operating this type of aircraft for years, is important.”
It is worth noting that this long-suffering armament program of the Air Force originally concerned the acquisition of 12 C-27Js, of which the last 4 of the program would be configured for use as aerial tankers! This part of the program was canceled and finally in the two years 2005-2006 a total of eight C-27Js of its “pure”, transport, version were received and joined the force of the historical 354 Tactical Transport Squadron (354 MTM), which was reconstituted specifically for the purpose this to the 112th Fighter Wing at Elefsinos Air Base, from where the Squadron still operates.
Unfortunately, when the relevant contract for the acquisition of the new aircraft was signed (under the government of K. Simitis), no one had taken care of (or foreseen, as it should be) the “Follow-On-Support” (FOS) of the program, as a result when the warranty periods of each aircraft began to be completed, it was stuck due to a lack of spare parts.
Classic “solution” to such a problem is to “cannibalize” one aircraft to fly the rest and so on. This was also done in the case of the C-27J, with the tragic result that once there were on the runway of the 354 MTM in Eleusis, the TRUNKS – literally – of up to 7 aircraft, with what of course this means for the operational readiness and availability of the Squadron!
Then came the decade of the Great Depression, the Memoranda, and the resulting budget cuts, with the result that all these FOS programs for many types of aircraft were essentially abandoned.
Fortunately, in the last three years, apart from the acquisition of new aircraft and weapon systems in general, special emphasis has been placed on the FOS, including the C-27J, and slowly the situation is starting to improve and the availability is increasing.
General Floros spoke about numbers of availability that will exist at the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, which we do not mention for obvious reasons, which, if true of course, will be very satisfactory, in relation to the recently tragic situation!