Andrea Spinelli/GENOA

ITALIAN AIRCRAFT manufacturer Alenia is trying to launch a new variant of its G222 military transport on the back of the Italian air force's proposed purchase of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules II.

The company wants development of the G222J, as the derivative is dubbed, as part of the offset agreement covering the purchase of 16 C-130Js for the air force.

Sources close to the C-130J negotiations say that Alenia wants to launch the G222J, with the aircraft to be marketed by Lockheed Martin as part of a "hi-lo" mix of military transports. The C-130J would provide the heavy lift capability, while the G222J would perform as an in-theatre transporter.

The G222J would have an upgraded digital flight deck and improved navigation equipment. The engine is an up-rated version of the General Electric T64, known as the T64G. A proposal to re-engine with Allison AE2100 turboprops proved too expensive. A new four-bladed propeller is also to be fitted.

While industry and the Italian industry ministry are enthusiastically endorsing the scheme, the Italian air force has scant interest in upgrading its G222 fleet or purchasing new-build aircraft. It says that the impetus for the G222J comes only from Alenia and its Government supporters.

The air force has already submitted a request to parliament for the purchase of four Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules transports to supplement its transport capability.

The air force is pursuing early approval of the acquisition, ostensibly for C-130Hs. Sources indicate, however, that, once approval is given, the air force would pursue modifying the order from the H- to the J-model Hercules.

Source: Flight International