As already written in the previous post ItAF C-130J Special Colour the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) achieved 75.000 flight hours with its fleet of 22 Lockheed Martin C-130J, a record that includes the first combat missions flown in the Super Hercules and the delivery of humanitarian relief supplies. The 46^ Brigata Aerea (Air Brigade), toook the first C-130J into server in Aug 2000 and in 8 years of operations contributed to the development of the the tactics for the employment of the “J” version of the Hercules in theatre and out-of-area scenarios. The ceremony held in Pisa was attended by Lockheed Martin’s vice president for C-130J Programs, Ross Reynolds, who praised the Italian transport unit involved in missions in support of allied troops in Afghanistan as well as humanitarian missions in every corner of the World. Reynolds said: “75.000 flight hours is a tremendous achievement….you are truly the operator by which all other C-130J operators are measured”. Reynolds presented the “Quarantaseiesima” (46th) with a large scale C-130J model that will stand in the entrance to the National Training Centre in Pisa, where all the Italian C-130J aircrew and maintainers are trained. Since it was established in 2004, the centre has provided more than 800 hours of training, graduating some 150 pilots a year.
The ceremony held in Pisa comprised also an air display: 4 flypasts performed not only by the C-130J but also by the C-27J that has been deployed to Afghanistan from the end of September. In fact, two Spartans of the 98° Gruppo are currently deployed to the FSB (Forward Support Base) Herat. One of the aircraft, after a short period of familiarization will replace the C-130J currently performing intra-theatre airlift tasks in Afghanistan that have achieved some 17.000 flight hours in theatre. The second aircraft will be employed as spare. In the last year, the 7 C-27Js of the 46^ Brigata Aerea flown approximately 2000 flight hours in both operative and training missions. The deployment will help the crews to improve the operative knowledge of pilots and maintainers. Yesterday it was an important day also for the C-27J as the first Spartan was delivered to the US Armed Forces in Waco, Texas (following picture courtesy Alenia Aeronautica).
The aircraft is the first of 78 C-27J that were ordered last year within the 2.04 billion dollar contract for the Joint Cargo Aircraft. The C-27J JCA is the greatest export success ever obtained for an aircraft designed and manufactured in Italy, that was delivered to the customer both on time and on budget. The contract for the supply of 78 C-27Js was signed on the Jun 13, 2007. The US Armed Forces envisage the acquisition of 145 airplanes 75 of which will be for the US Army and the remaining 70 for the US Air Force, with an total forecast of 207 aircraft within 10 years, with an estimated value of 6 billion dollars. The JCA maiden flight took place on Jun 18 2008 at the Flight Test Center of Alenia Aeronautica’s Caselle plant. The aircraft flew over the Atlantic, performing stopover in Iceland and Canada and reaching the USA in mid August for the integration of some specific components required by the US Army. The second C-27J JCA (civil registration I-RAIF) will reach Waco in the next days.
Below, some more pictures of the 75.000 flight hours ceremony, taken by Matteo Marianeschi in Pisa on Oct. 15 2008.