Development of the Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi MC-27J ‘Praetorian’ gunship under the lead of ATK is progressing, with the prototype recently completing a first phase of ground and light tests at Eglin AFB in Florida.
The MC-27J utilises a roll on-roll off palletised gun and mission control package for gunship missions, and retains an integral L-3 Wescam MX-15Di EO/IR turret in a permanent mounting under the nose. The gun is ATK’s side-mounted GAU-23 30mm cannon capable of firing 200 rounds per minute, and the aircraft is also equipped with enhanced radios and datalinks so it can perform gunship, ISR, and search & rescue missions, as well as conventional tactical transport missions with the pallet removed.
“The completion of successful testing with the Italian Air Force further validates the capabilities of the RORO gun and mission systems and demonstrates that the program is ready for fielding,” an ATK release issued t last week’s Farnborough Airshow reads. “This testing builds on previous gun accuracy flight tests done with the MC-27J at Eglin AFB in 2013 and will provide the aircraft with a vital capability and a greater mission flexibility at an affordable cost.”
So far only the Italian Air Force has ordered the aircraft and in small numbers. Despite their being some initial interest from the USAF Special Operations Command, this has waned after most of the USAF’s C-27J fleet was transferred to the US Coast Guard and US Army special operations earlier this year.
There is also believed to be some interest in the concept from Australia, although how developed that interest is is not known. The first RAAF C-27J is expected to be handed over to RAAF officials at Waco in Texas on July 25.