Leonardo and Armaereo, the Italian Defence Ministry’s Air Force Armament and Airworthiness Directorate, have signed a contract to upgrade the Italian Air Force’s C-27J Spartan fleet.

The contract includes the development, integration qualification and certification of a new avionics configuration for the C-27J; the upgrading of a number of general systems on the aircraft; the self-protection system; and the flight simulator. It also includes the delivery of the relevant first aircraft in this configuration, potentially followed by the retrofitting of the remaining 11 aircraft.

Under this contract, the Air Force’s C-27J will receive a significant upgrade of its avionic suite through the integration of new features such as the Mission Computer, the Flight Management System, Head Up and Head Down displays, radio and satellite communication systems, self-protection system and other upgrades improving the aircraft’s flexibility and operational effectiveness. The training system will also be updated on the basis of the new systems introduced on-board, aligning both flight simulators and courseware (teaching materials) along with relevant technical publications.

The retrofit possibilities have been specifically studied as part of the development of the C-27J programme, with the aim of allowing operators to constantly benefit from the improvements made to the aircraft.

A multitude of kits and easy-to-install and transportable roll-on/roll-off mission systems allow the C-27J to be rapidly transformed into the configuration required for the relevant mission. As a ‘tactical airlifter’, the aircraft’s versatility extends from airlifts of troops and cargo to airdrops of paratroopers and materials, from medical battlefield evacuation to VIP transportation, from humanitarian assistance and natural disaster response to firefighting. The C-27J can be configured in the Maritime Patrol (MPA), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Command-Control-Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C3ISR) versions.

The C-27J can be fitted with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) search radar, electro- optical/infrared systems and other specific sensors essential for Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR), Maritime Patrol (MPA), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) missions, support to Special Operation Forces and ground troops. The aircraft’s sensors can be managed via a palletised and rapidly removable mission system that analyses data collected and transmits it to the crew in real time. The fire fighter configuration with roll-on/roll-off second generation Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS II) by United Aeronautical Corporation enhances the C-27J's multi-mission capabilities.