June 19, 2013
Credit: C-27J Team
Alenia Aeronautica is preparing for the second phase of flight testing—including the integration of precision-guided munitions—on its palletized MC-27J gunship kit.
The concept is driven, in part, by U.S. Air Force interest, though the Italian Air Force also has interest in a C-27J gunship version.
Ben Stone, CEO of C-27J manufacturer Alenia Aeronautica, says the market is roughly 50 of these gunship kits. Aside from the U.S. and Italy, Alenia and its U.S.-based partner Alliant Techsystems (ATK) is also targeting sales in the Middle East, South America and the far east.
After being displayed at the Paris air show here this week, the gunship will travel for a demonstration at the Royal International Air Tattoo next month in the United Kingdom.
Then, the two companies plan to continue their jointly funded demonstration project to incrementally increase the capabilities of the system. The Phase 2 testing will include the incorporation of precision-guided munitions such as the Raytheon Griffin and Northrop Grumman Viper Strike. Additionally, some weapons being developed in secret by ATK are also slated for integration and flight testing, says William Kasting, vice president of ATK Defense Electronic Systems.
Phase 1 of testing began in August after the Farnborough air show last summer. That phase incorporated testing of the palletized 30mm gun and electro-optical and infrared sensor unit designed for targeting.
The ATK-designed 30mm gun is the same weapon used on the U.S. Air Force’s C-130-based gunship, but the company modified it to have less than 40% of the recoil, reducing stress on the aircraft caused by constant firing.
Also in Phase 2, the 30mm gun will be linked into the onboard targeting system; in Phase I, the pilots had to hit a target by leading with the gun.
No customers have signed on yet to the project; Kasting says he hopes to have a customer by Phase 3, which starts after Phase 2 wraps up next spring.