Alenia Aermacchi and ATK have joined forces to offer an MC-27J development of the former's Spartan twin-turboprop transport for applications ranging from flying as a dedicated gunship to carrying command and control elements in support of special forces operations.
The MC-27J product will be officially launched at the Farnborough air show, with Alenia due to provide further details on 10 July.
However, it confirms that the aircraft would have roll-on, roll-off-style mission equipment, an electro-optical/infrared sensor and potentially an ATK 30mm cannon protruding from its cargo hold. This combination could be employed for duties including border surveillance and close air support missions, or even counter-piracy operations.
ATK would be responsible for the mission and weapon system design, integration and installation, Alenia says. The US company has already gained valuable experience in such an activity, via a previous contract to modify two ex-Spanish air force Airbus Military CN235s as dedicated gunships for use by the Royal Jordanian Air Force.
Identifying the new design as an effective replacement for aged types such as the Basler BT-67 while also offering lower acquisition and operating costs than Lockheed Martin's larger C-130J, Alenia claims that "the effectiveness of a modular and palletised solution based on a proven tactical transport could provide significant savings, as well as increased capability". A market assessment conducted by the two companies suggests "there is a market for around 50 MC-27Js worldwide in the next 20 years", it adds.
Special mission equipment could be installed on an in-service C-27J "well inside of 12 months, depending on the desired level of system performance", Alenia says. New aircraft in a full configuration could be delivered within two years of a contract signature, it adds.
The Italian company notes that the MC-27J concept now being pitched to the market is completely separate to an Italian air force-funded study into a so-called "Pretorian" armed version announced at last year's Paris air show.