The Italian air force's 46th Air Brigade has performed an intra-theatre airlift demonstration to highlight the ability of its Alenia Aeronautica C-27J Spartans to work alongside Lockheed Martin's C-130J - a capability that will be tested operationally by the service in Afghanistan next year.

Conducted at Pisa air base, the demonstration involved the transfer of pallets between a C-130J and two C-27Js, following a mock airfield seizure conducted by a joint special forces team parachuted in from another C-130J. One standard HCU/6E pallet was transferred to each Spartan, without the need for load breakdown or reconfiguration.

The air force is poised to pass the 1,000 flight hour mark with its current three C-27Js, with a fourth aircraft scheduled to join the 46th Air Brigade by late October. "Two C-27Js are flying training missions, while the third is used for technician training," says Capt Vincenzo Pace, one of the service's first 12 pilots to have completed training on the new type.

C-27J Italy 
© Craig Hoyle/Flight International

The Spartan's availability will "add flexibility, versatility and agility to joint military operations", Italian air force chief of staff Gen Vincenzo Camporini told a workshop on intra-theatre airlift in Florence in mid-October attended by representatives from 35 air forces. "The C-27J materialises our vision for future airlift capabilities."

The air force and Alenia Aeronautica will by mid-2008 host the first C-27J operators conference, with this to be open to current users and potential buyers of the aircraft. The manufacturer has meanwhile unveiled a new logistics support concept to provide spare parts, repair services, training and technical assistance on a per-hour basis.

"The new concept is expected to bring into the company's military support package the experience gained with the ATR [regional airliner] programme," says Alenia Aeronautica chief executive Giovanni Bertolone.


Source: Flight International