Alenia Aermacchi is unveiling a new armed version of the C-27J Spartan military transport here at the Farnborough International Airshow. The new MC-27J model will feature an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) package, as well as fire-control equipment and an LW30mm link-fed gun.
The Spartan has served in Afghanistan as part as the inter-theater air-lift system, taking off and landing from short unprepared strips to transport troops, resupplying forward operating bases, and sometimes air dropping supply pallets when landing was impossible or too dangerous. The option to take an armed version of the twin turboprop could greatly enhance its possible roles in war zones.
Alenia Aermacchi has worked with U.S. group ATK to toughen up the Spartan, which features a high level of commonality with the larger C-130J while promising substantially lower acquisition and operating costs. To date, the C-27J has attracted 89 firm orders, with the latest customer being Australia, which placed a contract for 10 in May.
The unveiling of the new version of the Spartan does not come as a surprise, with Giuseppe Giordo, Alenia Aeronautica CEO, having announced the development at the 2011 Paris Air Show. Moreover at the same event the company exhibited a Spartan in a command-and-control version, equipped with Selex Sistemi Integrati FlexMis C2 suite, with two consoles and three seats, capable of being quickly installed and removed, showing the aircraft flexibility.
The MC-27J adopts a modular solution based on mission kits or pallets that will allow the aircraft to cover a broad range of capabilities such as command and control, ISR, communications rebroadcast, as well as direct and indirect fire support, with the latter role being carried out with the use of air-launched guided munitions. Mission packages can be quickly removed to bring the aircraft back to its original tactical transport role.
This modularity makes the MC-27J much more than a simple gunship, but in that role the Italian airframer claims that it outperforms most existing platforms. The aircraft’s endurance and defensive aids suite make it a valuable platform for the other specialized missions that in many services are carried out by aircraft with limited performance, many of which are becoming obsolete.
The C-27J is capable of taking off in 1,902 feet from unprepared strips with a maximum takeoff weight of 67,240 pounds, with a range of over 2,000 nm and a 13,228-pound payload.
Alenia is responsible for the integration of the systems on the aircraft and any structural modifications, while ATK handles the overall mission and weapon system design, integration and installation.
Ground and flight-test activities will soon be carried out in the U.S. The two companies forecast a market for about 50 multi-mission aircraft of this category in the next 20 years.