The US military has added to speculation regarding Afghanistan's possible acquisition of secondhand Alenia G222/C-27A tactical transports, with Pentagon sources revealing that Washington has bought 22 used aircraft to be delivered to the Afghan National Air Corps between 2009 and 2011.

US Air Force Gen Jay Lindell, commander of the Combined Air Power Transition Command Afghanistan, says the country's military strongly needs a new fixed-wing tactical transport component to replace four Antonov An-32s, and that the preferred solution should be Western-produced aircraft.

With more than 50 G222s having recently left Italian air force service and the USA having retired 10 C-27As in 1999, the twin-turboprop design appears to be the sole medium transport available in the world market in suitable numbers.

Any aircraft transferred to Afghanistan would undergo a limited upgrade and refurbishment programme, but logistics support, maintenance and crew training details have not been disclosed.

Alenia Aeronautica - which is already under contract to modernise G222s for the Nigerian air force - declined to comment on the reports.

Source: Flight International