The Americans know very well that steady transport aircraft can be valuable heavy gunnery platforms, witness the MC-130. So, why not do the same the Italians asked themselves. Enter the MC-27J.
At the 2013 Dubai International Airshow Alenia Aermacchi and the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) announced the development of a gunship version of the C-27J Spartan. Dubbed the MC-27J Praetorian the aircraft will be mainly tasked with supporting the Comando Operativo Forze Speciali (COFS). That is Italian for Special Forces Command.
The plan now calls for a prototype-Praetorian to be delivered to the Italian Air Force in Spring 2014, with subsequently a total of six MC-27Js finding their way to operational state in two batches.
The Italian Air Force and the aircraft manufacturer plan to have three MC-27J in the Praetorian configuration during 2016, using original C-27Js from the force. They will include mission systems, C3ISR equipment and palletized support / fire systems. An additional three aircraft will also have the same mission package capabilities.
Alenia Aermacchi will develop the new special ops aircraft in partnership with US based ATK, where a lot of energy will go into getting the right air-to-ground support systems. Selex ES will partner with Alenia Aermacchi for the communication and data link equipment.
From the official press release: “The MC-27J will an advanced defense system jointly developed by Alenia Aermacchi and ATK. The MC-27J is based on the C-27J, the most state-of-the-art twin-engine turboprop tactical transport aircraft currently available on the market providing unequaled performance. The ability to accommodate NATO standard pallets allows a wide range of palletized roll-on/roll-off solutions increasing the effectiveness of its tactical and strategic mission capabilities at lower costs, benefiting the Comando Operativo Forze Speciali (COFS) particularly strict operating requirements.”
Okay. May we also add the MC-27J will be able to operate from smaller and more robust locations than the Lockheed Martin MC-130s and that since the aircraft is smaller, it will also provide adversaries with a smaller target. Add some cool looking black and see the Alenia Aermacchi static display at the 2013 Dubai Airshow.
© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger with source information of Alenia Aermacchi