Canadian Forces FWSAR Project – Industry Response – February
DHC-5NG — a New-Production Buffalo Compared with C-27J
Vancouver Island-based Viking Air Ltd., type certicate holder for the classic DHC-5 Buffalo have proposed
a new-production version of that DeHavilland
Canada design. Viking Air President and CEO, David Curtis, argues that his firm is capable of both
supporting existing Buffalos and of incorporating new technologies into an revised and
improved, 'new-build', next-generation Buffalo type.
In late January 2008, Viking prepared a document which both describes their proposed DHC-5NG and compares this
improved variant with the in-service CC-115 Buffalo and
the reputed front-runner for DND's Fixed-Wing Search-and-Rescue
project, the C-27J.
The document provides a brief history of the development of the original DHC-5 plus the origins of the competing
Italian design, the Alenia C-27J Spartan, in the Fiat G.222. There is also a discussion of the routineness
of developing a modernized aircraft from an existing airframe. This is followed by a comparison of C-27J, DHC-5NG,
and CC-115. Finally, the Canadian approach to aircraft procurement is compared with that of
The Viking document (originally a pdf file) is reproduced below in slightly edited form.
Sidney, BC - 21 January 2009
DHC-5NG Buffalo versus C-27J Spartan
The DHC-5NG is a development of the de Havilland DHC-5 Buffalo STOL utility trans- port aircraft. Design on
the original Buffalo started in 1962 when the US Army invited
25 companies to submit proposals for a new STOL tactical transport aircraft. [ Ed: DHC
first tested their DHC-4 Caribou with turboprops.] The Buffalo won the competition, and DHC-5
development costs were shared between the US Army, the Canadian govern- ment, and de Havilland. The first
prototype Buffalo was delivered to the US Army for evaluation in 1965.
The Alenia C-27J is a development of the Fiat
G.222 military transport aircraft. Design on the original was started in 1963 under an
Italian Air Force research project contract. [ Ed: The G.222 was originally to be a vertical take-off
and landing transport design (left). See C-27J Geneology:
Fiat G.222 Ancestry.] The first [conventional-landing G.222] prototype flew in 1970.
Both the Fiat G.222 and the de Havilland Canada Buffalo were powered by General Electric T64 turboprop engines driving
Hamilton Standard 3-bladed propellers. The two aircraft are of roughly the same external size but the
G.222 is significantly heavier. This weight difference gave the Buffalo a manoeuvrability and performance
advantage over the heavier G.222 in many roles including SAR missions.
A total of 108 G222 aircraft were built, of which 46 were
for the Italian Air Force and 20 for
Libya. The US Army
took delivery of 10 aircraft designated C-27A in
but all C-27As had been parked by the end of 1999 as
"unsuitable for service".
deHavilland Canada produced
121 DHC-5 Buffalos, of which 106 were for export.
STOL capabilities and manoeuvrability of the DHC-5 Buffalo
remains unsurpassed even today among aircraft in this category.
An improved version of the G.222 was conceived in 1995 between Lockheed Martin and
Alenia on potential offsets for the proposed Italian purchase of C-130J Hercules aircraft. Formal announcement of the joint offset project was made
in 1996 and the first prototype of the C-27J flew in 1999. The Italian Air Force was the initial customer for C-27J
(as it was for the G.222s) on condition that Alenia take back the 39 remaining Italian G.222s [which Alenia is
rebuilding for resale].
C-27J development and certification costs were shared equally between Alenia and
Lockheed Martin but, by 2003, Lockheed Martin was seeking reduced participation in the project [Lockheed
Martin-Alenia Tactical Transport Systems]. In 2005, Alenia and L-3 Integrated Systems formed Global
Military Aircraft Systems (GMAS) as a joint venture with the near term objective of promoting
C-27Js for US military requirements.
Viking's DHC-5NG "Next generation Buffalo" is a logical development of the original DHC-5
Buffalo aircraft in the same way as the G.222 became the C-27J. Incorporating
new technology into proven airframes is nothing new; the C-130 first flew in 1954 and
was developed into the C-130J; Boeing's 737 has been in continuous production since
1967 and will become the next generation US Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft – the P-8A.
Whereas the engine, propeller and flight deck equipment for the C-27J has been based on the military equipment
of the C-130J, the DHC-5NG will be equipped with the latest technology commercial equipment. The
upgrade, which is complete from flight deck through all systems, is centered on the engine / propeller
combination from the DHC-8 Q400. DND and Canadian taxpayers will benefit from the reliability, supportability, and
the reduced operations costs of commercial equipment. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150 engine, for
example, will fly more than 10,000 flying hours between overhauls.
Comparison between the C-27J, the DHC-5NG and DND’s current CC-115 Buffalo
Notes: * de-rated from Q400 5071 shp. ** conservative estimate of
| Original design
| Modernized to current model
| Wing span
|| 94' 2"
|| 96' 0"
|| 96' 0"
| Overall length
|| 74' 6"
|| 79' 0"
|| 79' 0"
| Overall height
|| 34' 8"
|| 28' 8"
|| 28' 8"
| Cabin length
|| 28' 1"
|| 31' 5"
|| 31' 5"
| Max cabin width
|| 8' 0"
|| 8' 9"
|| 8' 9"
| Cabin height
|| 7' 4"
|| 6' 10"
|| 6' 10"
| Operating Weight Empty [lbs]
| Max Take Off – transport [lbs]
| Max Take Off – tactical role [lbs]
| Max TO - STOL/unprepared strip [lbs]
| Max Take Off Engine power [shaft hp]
| Maximum level speed [ knots ]
| Single engine service ceiling [ feet ]
| Take Off distance to 50 feet [ feet ]
| Stalling speed [ knots ]
| Total fuel capacity [pounds]
The following may be concluded from the above: The design role of the C-27J is to be a "medium size" supplement to
the C-130J. If Canada needs a third type conventional transport aircraft, then the C-27J may be a suitable option.
The Buffalo can operate on short, unprepared surfaces that are inaccessible to the C-27J and the
Buffalo has much better manoeuvrability. If Canada's needs to maintain its FWSAR
mission capability, including operations in mountainous terrain, than the DHC-5NG
is the only answer.
Strategic Procurement Strategy — Italy versus Canada
Italy funded the initial development of the G222 with no external customers;
Canada funded 1/3 of the DHC-5 after DHC had won the US Army competition.
Italy got Lockheed Martin to co-fund the development of the G222 into the C-27J
as an offset obligation against the Italian purchase of US-built C-130Js;
Canada purchased C-17s and C-130Js with offset obligations, but considers maint-
enance and support for aircraft bought and owned as an offset opportunity!
Italy purchased 46 G.222s for its Air Force and then ordered C-27Js as replacement;
Canada ordered 15 DHC-5s, but will now potentially replace the Buffalos in the SAR
role with the Italian product developing the Canadian aircraft at less cost.
When Italian border police and Coast Guard required patrol aircraft, Italy directed
an order for 7 Alenia ATR-42 Surveyors. Italy's military will receive 4 ATR-72 MPA.
The government and military have one vision: use Italian products when you can!
Orders for the Dash 8 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft, built in Canada and modified
in Canada by Field Aviation now stands at 29 aircraft. All have been won in inter-
national competition against the likes of the ATR-42/72. So far, no opportunities to
bid on Italian requirements – and no opportunities to meet Canadian requirements.