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13 Jun 07. L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. on Wednesday beat out rival Raytheon Co. to win a Pentagon contract worth up to $2bn to build cargo planes for the military. A senior advisory panel at the Pentagon picked a team led by New York-based L-3 to build 78 C-27J Spartan cargo planes by 2013, replacing the military’s aging light cargo aircraft, senior Army and Air Force officials said.

L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, L.P., of Greenville, Texas, was awarded a firm-fixed price contract June 13, 2007, estimated at $2.04 billion for procurement of up to 78 Joint Cargo Aircraft (C-27J Spartan).This includes pilot and loadmaster training, and contractor logistics support for the United States Army and Air Force.The contract consists of three 12-month ordering periods for Low-Rate Initial Production and two 12-month options for Full-Rate Production.Four bids were received under the full and open competition in response to the March 17, 2006, request for proposals.Work in the United States will be performed at Waco, Texas.Aircraft manufacture will occur in Italy.Work is to be completed by June 30, 2012.The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity(W58RGZ-07-0099).

Analysts expected L-3’s team, which includes Italian partner Finmeccanica SpA’s subsidiary Alenia North America Inc., Boeing Co. and Global Military Aircraft Systems to beat Raytheon. The Waltham, Mass.-based company teamed up with CASA, a subsidiary of European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. NV, and offered to build C-295s.

To date, 32 C-27J aircraft have been ordered: 12 by the Italian Air Force, 12 (plus an option on three) by the Greek Air Force, five by the Bulgarian Air Force and three by the Lithuanian Air Force. Romania also selected seven aircraft. Bids to supply the C-27J are also under way in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia, and the aircraft is currently being evaluated in Australia, Canada and some Middle Eastern countries. The C-27J is produced in the Alenia Aeronautica plants of Pomigliano, near Naples, and Turin-Caselle.

The selection of the C-27J is another success notched up by Finmeccanica companies on the US market. These include helicopters for the presidential fleet and the achievements of AgustaWestland’s line of civil helicopters, manufactured at its Philadelphia plant. In addition, Alenia Aeronautica and US partner Vought manufacture 26% of the structure of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner commercial aeroplane and Elsag produces the licence plate reading system. Finmeccanica companies AgustaWestland, OTO Melara, Elsag, Selex Sistemi Integrati, MBDA, Thales Alenia Space, Telespazio, AnsaldoBreda and Ansaldo STS all have a presence in the US, employing around 1,600 people in total.

While both companies make twin-engine turboprop planes, L-3’s C-27J is considered larger, heavier and more technologically advanced than the C-295.

The L-3 plane costs slightly more than the cargo plane Raytheon offered but it has performed better on short runways, flying longer distances without refueling and is bale to hold more weight.

“This award enhances our well-established expertise as an aircraft systems integrator of critical aircraft serving our military and allies,” said Michael T. Strianese, chief executive of L-3, in a statement. The C-27J is currently deployed by the United States, NATO, the United Nations and Italy supporting military and humanitarian operations.

Raytheon spokesman Mac Jeffery said, “We are very proud of our people that put together a highly competitive proposal.” The new planes will replace the C-23 Sherpa, a 23-year-old cargo plane built by Short Brothers plc, the C-36 and some of the C-12s, as well as other transport aircraft, such as Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook, which the Army has been using for battlefield support operations.

The C-23 has drawbacks based on current needs of U.S. soldiers in the field, including the inability to f

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