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Canadian Forces FWSAR Project  –  Industry Response  –  February 2009

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  Italy.

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 1991,
 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. The
 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

      C-27J   DHC-5NG   CC-115
  Original design   1963       1962     1962
  Modernized to current model   1995       2009     N.A.
  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]   37,480       24,000     23,200
  Max Take Off – transport  [lbs]   70,106       49,200     41,000
  Max Take Off – tactical role  [lbs]   67,240       49,200     41,000
  Max TO - STOL/unprepared strip [lbs]     N.A.       41,000     41,000
  Max Take Off Engine power  [shaft hp]   4,637         3,133*        3,060
  Maximum level speed   [ knots ]     315           300          235
  Single engine service ceiling  [ feet ]   14,500       20,000**     14,300
  Take Off distance to 50 feet  [ feet ]     2,100         1,250       1,540
  Stalling speed   [ knots ]       90            71          65
  Total fuel capacity   [pounds]   21,320       13,807      13,807
Notes: * de-rated from Q400 5071 shp. ** conservative estimate of performance

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.

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