Italy to operate a small fleet of MC-27J Praetorian gunships, special operations planes

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.

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.