Nation's air force to provide transport aircraft, helicopters to back Special Forces tasks

Alenia Aeronautica's C-27J Spartan could be used to provide Special Forces support services to the Italian military under a proposed Task Force Group Air organisation.

The planned task force would be established as part of a major reorganisation of the nation's current armed forces structure.

The Italian air force is expected to support the new organisation with its future fleet of 12 C-27Js and current Lockheed MartinC-130J transports. A rotary-wing component will initially use the service's Agusta-Sikorsky HH-3Fs, but will later employ a new combat search and rescue platform, such as the AgustaWestland EH101.

Alenia says the new support role will draw on C-27J design characteristics including short take-off and landing from semi-prepared airstrips, diverse airdrop potential, countermeasures equipment, night vision goggle-compatible cockpit and commonality with the C-130J.

The Italian air force received its first C-27J last October. A second is due to follow this month, with the remainder to follow at a rate of one a month. The service's first example was returned to Alenia shortly after its acceptance, and has subsequently been used to support a demonstration tour in the USA as part of Global Military Aircraft Systems' campaign to win the US Air Force-Army Joint Cargo Aircraft contest.

Alenia North America, Boeing and L-3 Communications Integrated Systems are offering the C-27J for the requirement, in competition with the EADS Casa C-295, promoted by EADS North America and Raytheon. Platform selection is anticipated from early 2007.

Alenia Aeronautica C-27J Spartan 
©Alenia Aeronautica
 The C-27J has many characteristics that make it ideal for the support role

Source: Flight International