Airbus is planning to deliver the first of two A319CJ business jets to the Italian air force's 31st Wing in November. The L159 billion($90 million) deal will see the second aircraft handed over in August 2000.

The aircraft will be used for government/VIP operations, and will replace the air force's two McDonnell Douglas DC-9 airliner variants, which have been in service since 1974.

Germany's Lufthansa Technik has been appointed to complete the aircraft, which will have seating for about 60 passengers, a conference area, private office and a compartment for staff and guests.

During the aircraft's first major overhaul, the Italian air force plans to install a microwave landing system with multimode receiver, a Category III instrument landing system and a differential global positioning system.

The 31st Wing is also scheduled to take delivery of two Dassault Falcon 900EXs in September and November, to replace its ageing Gulfstream IIIs. In addition, the division operates a VIP-configured Falcon 50.

Source: Flight International