Partners Alenia Aermacchi and ATK have provided further details about their development work on a gunship and multi-mission payload fit for the C-27J Spartan tactical transport, and revealed plans to take the MC-27J derivative to the Dubai air show in November.

One of Alenia Aermacchi's C-27J development aircraft was on static display at the UK's Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) from 20-21 July, carrying a mock-up of the ATK GAU-23 30mm cannon tested earlier this year during ground and airborne firing tests.

 MC-27J RIAT - Craig Hoyle

All images: Craig Hoyle/Flightglobal

The palletised solution, which was first shown with the Spartan at the Farnborough air show in July 2011 and also exhibited at last month's Paris air show, has been derived from a system originally developed for the US Air Force more than a decade ago. Dubbed "Scathe View", this added intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment to eight Lockheed Martin C-130E/H tactical transports.

During the recent test campaign in Florida, the USA, a team of three ground personnel were able to load the multi-mission equipment pallets onboard the C-27J within 1h 2min, versus an original goal of less than 4h, Hayes says.

To be conducted later this year, a second test phase will seek to demonstrate the cannon's ability to be used in a non-fixed position, while also providing increased accuracy, via software enhancements to its associated mission system equipment. The product refinement activity will also involve firing the weapon beyond the maximum 12,500ft (3,800m) slant angle already achieved, ATK says. It also is expected to include the full integration of an electro-optical/infrared sensor turret to support weapon targeting, with elements of the work already conducted on a second aircraft in Turin, Italy.

Referring to market interest in the multi-mission package seen since product launch two years ago, Brad Hayes, business development director for ATK's special mission aircraft unit, says: "The RFPs and RFIs have really started to pick up. We have multiple potential customers looking," he adds, but notes that the companies have signed non-disclosure agreements with such parties. However, the Middle East represents one current "focus area" for the MC-27J, the industry partners say.

 C-27J RIAT - Craig Hoyle

The Italian air force also displayed one of its C-27Js during the daily flying display at RIAT (above), which was staged at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire. Other of the service's assets which participated in the event included three Eurofighter combat and training aircraft, a Boeing KC-767A tanker (below) and the Frecce Tricolori aerobatic display team, flying Alenia Aermacchi MB-339s.

 KC-767 Italy RIAT - Craig Hoyle

The KC-767A was flown accompanied by Eurofighters from the air forces of Italy and the UK

Source: Flight International