Armed MC-27J Variant Makes Progress

 - July 5, 2013, 12:30 PM
Alenia Aermacchi displayed the MC-27J at the Paris Air Show and reported progress on integrating its armament. (Photo: Bill Carey)

Alenia Aermacchi and U.S. manufacturer ATK said they completed first-phase ground and flight tests of a multi-mission version of the C-27J airlifter equipped with a gun system pallet. At a Paris Air Show briefing last month, the companies displayed video from the test series from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, this spring, showing a technician firing an ATK GAU-23 30mm cannon from the aft port side of the aircraft. “The test events were designed and certified by the U.S. Air Force and deemed successful by Air Force Special Operations Command,” they said.

The companies announced their joint effort to develop and market the MC-27J multi-mission version at last year’s Farnborough International airshow. They said the second test phase begins with ground testing at a Minnesota range in November and will demonstrate a palletized mission system with an integrated weapon that slews with an electro-optical/infrared sensor. The second phase will also test the system’s capability of deploying precision-guided munitions such as the GBU-44 Viper Strike and AGM-176 Griffin. The companies said their goal is to be able to reconfigure the C-27J with the roll-on/roll-off mission system in four hours; the first test phase demonstrated that it can be done in just over one hour.

At the Paris briefing, Ben Stone, Alenia Aermacchi North America president and CEO, said the companies see a potential world market for 50 such aircraft over the next two decades. “We think it’s a good match for other requirements, not just for the Italian air force,” which operates the C-27J, he said. “We’ve had healthy discussions with numerous [potential] customers,” including countries in the Middle East, South America and Asia, he added.

Alenia Aermacchi is also pitching the C-27J for Canada’s Fixed Wing Search and Rescue Requirement (FWSAR), with partners General Dynamics Canada and DRS Technologies Canada. The latter two companies would customize green aircraft from the Italian production line, and provide long-term training support, respectively.