DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The Italian Air Force has contracted Alenia Aermacchi for development and production of a gunship version of the C-27J airlifter for use by special forces.
The project, announced at an international airshow in the United Arab Emirates, has two phases. During Phase One, Alenia Aermacchi will develop and deliver a MC-7J Praetorian prototype to the Italian Air Force next spring for testing in operational scenarios. Phase Two will involve industrialization of the Praetorian configuration and related logistic support.
The C-27J is a twin-engine turboprop transport with a cruise speed of 362 miles per hour, a ceiling of 30,000 feet and a range of more than 1,000 miles with a payload of 22,000 pounds.
Alenia Aermacchi said its partners on the project are ATK of the United States and Selex ES.
The Italian Air Force plans to transform three C-27J's currently in service into the Praetorian configuration in 2016. Three others will follow. All six will feature command-and-control equipment, palletized cargo systems and fire support systems.
Details of weaponry to be carried by the aircraft were not disclosed.