MC-27J is a new multimission transport aircraft jointly produced and marketed by Alenia Aermacchi and ATK. It is a roll on/roll off (RO/RO) aircraft based on the C-27J Spartan. The MC-27J is an affordable alternative to the current special-mission aircraft.
Alenia unveiled a new version of the C-27J Spartan battlefield air-lifter, the MC-27J, at the Farnborough International Air Show in July 2012. The MC-27J is a multirole, armed, RO/RO variant of the C-27J.
The MC-27J is designed to support air forces and Special Forces involved in the tactical transport, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, anti-terrorism operations, the evacuation of military and civilians from crisis zones and the fight against asymmetric threats.
Design based on the C-27J
MC-27J is based on the combat proven airframe of the C-27J. The base platform is slightly modified, while the airlift capabilities of C-27J are retained. The new aircraft is incorporated with pallet-based systems for additional mission-specific capabilities.
The MC-27J can be configured to conduct troop / cargo transport, paratroops / material air-drop, medical evacuation (MEDVAC) and VIP / passenger transport. The gun barrel on the aircraft can be removed to allow reconfigurations for other missions. The aircraft also integrates a fire protection system and an ice protection system.
The aircraft has a length of 22.7m, wing span of 28.7m and a height of 9.6m. The maximum take-off weight of the MC-27J is 30,500kg.
Cockpit and avionics systems
The modern, two-pilot glass cockpit of the MC-27J is equipped with a state-of-the-art, off-the-shelf avionics suite. The cockpit is fully compatible with night vision imaging systems. The avionics suite integrates colour multipurpose displays, multifunction control and display units, optional head-up display units, digital auto-pilot, GPS/INS, identification friend or foe (IFF) transponder, recording systems, terrain awareness warning system (TAWS) and traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS).
MC-27J weapons and Bushmaster cannon
The onboard PaWS (palletized weapon system) provides combat capabilities for the MC-27J aircraft. The PaWS is specifically designed for the ATK GAU-23 30mm cannon and other precision guided light munitions. The system minimises collateral damages. The palletised system can be loaded / unloaded through the rear ramp of aircraft. It can be installed in the aircraft within four hours.
The GAU-23 Bushmaster 30mm cannon mounted on the PaWS RO/RO pallet is a next-generation chain gun. The gun incorporates battle proven features of the M242 and Mk44 25mm cannons. The gun can fire 30mm x 173mm, PGU-13, PGU-15, and PGU-46 ammunition at a rate of 200 rounds a minute. The ammunition is fed into the gun through a dual feed system.
GAU-23 Bushmaster 30mm cannon
30mm x 173mm
ATK expanded its aviation weapons solution through the development of a Roll-On/Roll-Off (RORO) pallet and weapons mount that integrates with the GAU-23 cannon. The resulting weapons package will allow medium lift platforms the ability to install the system in less than four hours without airframe modification. The ammunition is fed into the gun through a dual feed system.
Sensors and communications
The palletised system also accommodates a reconfigurable mission suite incorporating sensors, communications and mission management system. The aircraft is equipped with electro-optical / infrared targeting sensors, modern command, control and communications equipment.
The MC-27J serves as an independent command and control centre interfaced with the ground command network. The aircraft is also equipped to provide signal intelligence (SIGINT) intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. The target identification systems and weapons systems aboard the aircraft support ground missions.
The ITAF MC-27J aircraft was modified with an L-3 Wescam MX-15Di Electro-Optical and Infrared Turret mounted under the nose of the aircraft to support multi-mission applications such as a Gunship, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance(ISR) and Search and Rescue (SAR) missions; various radio and data links and ATK’s Roll-On/Roll-Off (RORO) palletized gun and mission control systems.
L-3 Wescam MX-15Di Electro-Optical and Infrared Turret
MC-27J engines and performance
The MC-27J is powered by two Rolls-Royce AE2100D2A turboprop engines. Each engine, generating 4,637shp power, drives two Dowty six-blade, all-composite propellers. Two full authority digital electronic control units control the engines and propellers.
Rolls-Royce AE2100D2A turboprop engines
Dowty six-blade, all-composite propellers
The onboard electricity is supplied by three generators. The auxiliary power unit (APU) allows the engines to be restarted in flight during emergency conditions.
The fuel system includes four wing tanks and two dedicated fuel feed systems. The aircraft can be optionally fitted with an air-to-air refuelling probe for performing aerial refuelling.
The MC-27J can fly at a maximum altitude of 30,000ft. It has a cruising speed of 583km/h and a maximum speed of 602km/h. The maximum range and ferry range of the aircraft are 1,852km and 5,926km respectively.
Data from Alenia Aeronautica, C-27J facts
- Crew: Minimum two: pilot, co-pilot, (plus loadmaster when needed)
- Capacity: 60 troops or 46 paratroops or 36 litters with 6 medical personnel
- Cargo compartment: width 3.33 m X height 2.25 m
- Payload: 11,500 kg (25,353 lb)
- Length: 22.7 m (74 ft 6 in)
- Wingspan: 28.7 m (94 ft 2 in)
- Height: 9.64 m (31 ft 8 in)
- Wing area: 82 m2 (880 sq ft)
- Empty weight: 17,000 kg (37,479 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 30,500 kg (67,241 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce AE2100-D2A turboprop, 3,460 kW (4,640 hp) each
- Propellers: 6-bladed Dowty Propeller 391/6-132-F/10, 4.15 m (13 ft 7 in) diameter
- Maximum speed: 602 km/h (374 mph; 325 kn)
- Cruising speed: 583 km/h (362 mph; 315 kn)
- Minimum control speed: 194 km/h; 121 mph (105 kn)
- Range: 1,852 km (1,151 mi; 1,000 nmi) with 10,000 kilograms (22,000 lb) payload
- Range at 6,000 kg payload: 4,260 km (2,650 mi; 2,300 nmi)
- Ferry range: 5,926 km (3,682 mi; 3,200 nmi)
- Service ceiling: 9,144 m (30,000 ft)
IDEF 2015: Oto Melara reveals C-27J gunship system
IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly
Oto Melara have unveiled a new palletised gunship system for military transport aircraft at IDEF 2015 in Istanbul.
Armed with an M61A1 Vulcan 20 mm gatling gun, the Oto Melara Gunship system is designed to fit entirely onto a single 463L NATO standard 88’x108′ pallet. Gunship is designed to be a roll-on/roll-off system, with no modification needed to the aircraft. Indeed, company officials said that the system could be rolled-on or rolled-off an aircraft in 15 minutes or less.
Besides the roll-on/roll-off capability, company officials cited one of the system’s key operational advantages as its servo-operated gunmount, which provides a much greater degree of trainability and arc of fire than typical fixed-mounts on gunships.
The system has been designed by Oto Melara for an Italian special forces requirement. The company began developing Gunship after receiving EUR2 million (USD2.26 million) in research and development funding from the Italian Ministry of Defence (MoD) in September 2013. In total Italy has a requirement for six Gunship systems, with the company stating it expects a production order in 2016. Deliveries would then begin by the end of 2016 or by the start of 2017. The cost of a single Gunship system is understood to be several million euros.
The gunship system’s M61A1 fires through the paratroop side-door of the transport aircraft, and retracts fully inside the aircraft when not in ready-to-fire mode.
Gunship has been designed for use on any military transport aircraft capable of carrying a 463L standard pallet. That said, its design has been guided by the Italian special forces requirement for it to be installed on the Alenia Aermacchi C-27J aircraft, which has its paratroop door at the left-hand rear of the aircraft.
Accordingly the entire system, including 750 rounds of 20 mm linked ammunition and the gunner, weighs 1,550 kg – the maximum safe load for the rear pallet stowage position on the C-27J. To achieve this low level of weight, the system makes extensive use of carbon fibre construction, with the M61A1’s mounting system, the workstation, and even the gunner’s chair being made of carbon fibre to save weight.
Contained within the pallet system are the M61A1 Vulcan, its mounting system and servos, a modified Selex ES Janus electro-optical infrared turret, gunner workstation, magazine, GPS and INS reference systems, and the system’s electronics and power systems.
Gunship has its own batteries, capable of operating the system autonomously for 30 minutes; but it can also be plugged into an aircraft’s auxiliary power supply allowing indefinite operational time. The M61A1 has been limited to a fixed fire rate of 4,000 rounds per minute for the Gunship system.
Oto Melara revealed that the first prototype was delivered to the Italian Air Force in October 2014, who certified it for flight on the C-27J and began airborne firing trials on 3 March. These took place at the Capo Frasca range in Sardinia and included one dry and 11 hot runs. In total 550 rounds were fired through the Gunship system at altitudes of 1,500-3,700 ft and a slant range of just over one mile.
Oto Melara is now fine-tuning the system and expects it to have a Circular Error Probability lower than 4 m at 5,000 ft of altitude/2,000 m slant range. At the higher altitude of 10,000 ft this would increase to 10-12 m, according to the company.
A further, final, batch of firing trials are planned when the Capo Frasca range reopens in October, after which the system should be fully qualified.
Oto Melara officials revealed that it was in talks with several Middle Eastern clients about the system and that firing trials in at least one Middle Eastern customer were also planned. While currently armed with an M61 Vulcan, the company said that the system had potential for the armament to be increased to a 25 mm gatling-style cannon.
As well, it noted that a separate Italian company was developing a second palletised command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4ISR) system that would add datalink capabilities to the Gunship system and function and allow a transport aircraft to function as both a gunship and an airborne command post for ground operations.