The ‘European Spartan Exercise’ 2021, an annual flying exercise organised by the C-27J community with the support of EDA and hosted this year by the Bulgarian Air Force, is currently underway at Plovdiv (27 Sep.-8. Oct). The aim of the exercise is to increase interoperability among European countries operating the C-27J Spartan military aircraft. It is one of the concrete outcomes of the European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) partnership signed in 2011 by 20 EDA Member States.
Four countries (Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Slovakia) are participating in this year’s event, with four aircraft. The exercise is part of EDA’s dedicated C-27J project (Cat.B) where the five participating Member States C-27J users (the four afore-mentioned countries plus Romania) identify and develop common projects in the domains of operations, training, logistics, procurement, airworthiness and SESAR (Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research) to achieve a high level of interoperability and cost-efficient operating and maintenance models. It’s the 5th edition of the exercise the last of which took place in Romania in 2019 (the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic).
The C-27J Spartan aircraft is designed to perform tactical missions in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, providing direct air transport to the theatre, day and night. The Spartan Exercise is also focused on those types of operations, training C-27J crews to fly low level, tactical navigations in different scenarios. Several airfields in Bulgaria have been chosen for training: at Cheshnegirovo airfield, crews are performing Tactical Approaches, Personnel Airdrops and Aerial Cargo Delivery, whereas Bezmer Air Base was chosen to simulate EROs (engine running operations) for medical evacuations. Operators from the Bulgarian Joint Special Operation Command as well as a Combat Control Team from the Special Forces of the Italian Air Force also take part in the exercise.