U.S. Coast Guard finally got authorization to acquire the last 14 Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan that the USAF was going to mothball, through an intra service transfer.
Ever since the Air Force announced back in 2012 that they were mothballing the entire fleet of C-27Js to save money, the Coast Guard, US Forest Service and US SOCOM (Special Operations Command) have all been eyeing either part of or all of the remaining fleet of. Back in October of 2013 SOCOM was authorized to receive 7 of the cargo planes to replace its fleet of CASA 212 aircraft.
The 14 C-27Js will supplement a fleet of 15 CH-144s: the USCG had originally ordered 36 of the CH-144s but halved the order once they learned that they could acquire the C-27Js directly from the Air Force at no cost.
In a press release the Coast Guard said that initial flight operations will start with in six to twelve months. Once in operation the Spartans will be used for medium range surveillance, maritime patrol, drug and immigration interdiction, disaster response, and search and rescue.
Also the Coast Guard plans on upgrading all 14 Spartans with tailored mission kits to include surface-search radars, electro-optical sensors and mission suites.
The Instrumented Production Aircraft 2 (IPA2) Typhoon, updated to the Phase 1 Enhancement standard, carrying two stealthy, long-range precision Storm Shadow missiles was spotted at Deci airbase in the last weeks.
The photographs in this post, taken by The Aviationist contributor Gian Luca Onnis, provide a closer look at the Typhoon configuration, featuring two AIM-9L Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAMs along with the Storm Shadows.
Eurofighter and Alenia Aermacchi have released some images of the initial flight trials that began on Nov. 27, by the Alenia Aermacchi Flight Test Center at Decimomannu airbase, in Sardinia, Italy. Such tests, supported by BAE Systems and Cassidians, are aimed to demonstrate that the air-launched cruise missile, already in service with both the Italian Air Force and Royal Air Force Tornado bombers (that used them in the 2011 Libya Air War), can be safely carried by the Typhoon.
The testing campaign involves the Instrumented Production Aircraft 2 (IPA2) updated to the Phase 1 Enhancement standard. The aircraft will conduct flutter tests and air data system large store interference assessment to validate the integration of the new weapon that will give the aircraft a significant capability to employ the stealthy, long-range precision weapon against high value, well defended targets, day or night, in all-weather conditions.
According to Eurofighter, the 1.300 kg standoff weapon (over 5-mt long) will be available to the 7 Typhoon operators (Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman) from 2015 when the Eurofighter Typhoon Phase 2 Enhancements become operational.
Image credit: Eurofighter/Luigino Caliaro
Even if the new basic-advanced trainer will be inducted into active service between 2017 and 2010, Finmeccanica has already unveiled what the traditional livery of the Frecce Tricolori on the M-345 HET could look like.
During the Dubai airshow 2013, Alenia Aermacchi (a Finmeccanica Company) and the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) signed an agreement to provide development, testing, certification, industrialization and logistic support of the specialized version of the MC-27J known as Praetorian.
The Praetorian, is a specialized version of the MC-27J, that will support missions for the Italian Special Forces, Comando Operativo Forze Speciali (COFS).
Among the supported configurations one of the most interesting is the Fire Support one, that sees a Spartan cargo plane transformed into a Gunship (a mini-AC-130 Spectre) equipped with a side GAU-23 30 mm gun.
Still, of particular interest for the Italian Air Force are those that envisage the Spartan equipped with Communications Intelligence (COMINT), EO/IR (Electro optical/Infra-red) sensors for ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance), Border Surveillance, Command and Control missions.
“The Italian Air Force plan to transform three C-27J’s, currently in service, into the Praetorian configuration during 2016 and will include mission systems, C3ISR equipment and palletized support / fire systems. An additional three aircraft will also have the same mission package capabilities,” an Alenia Aermacchi press release explains.