Alenia Aermacchi and partner ATK have completed initial ground and flight tests with their proposed MC-27J derivative of the Italian company's Spartan tactical transport.
On show sporting a new black paint scheme, the MC-27J has been adapted for the gunship mission via the installation of a palletised system, which houses an ATK GAU-23 30mm cannon and associated command and control equipment inside the aircraft's cargo hold. This will provide operators with the ability to rapidly convert their transport aircraft for the persistent strike role.
Part of the first test phase included proving the roll-on, roll-off nature of the system, which Alenia Aermacchi and ATK say "exceeded all test objectives". Conducted at Eglin AFB in Florida by company personnel, "the test events were deemed successful by [US] Air Force Special Operations Command," they add.
Work involved both ground-based and airborne firings using the sideways-mounted GAU-23.
"The performance and functionality of the gunship pallet in this first round of testing met all our objectives, and we are now ready to move on to Phase 2 of development and testing," says Bill Kasting, ATK Defense Electronic Systems' vice-president and general manager. This process will seek to further the technology readiness level of the system, the companies say.
Unveiled at the Farnborough air show in July 2012, the MC-27J system is also expected to be expanded to include the integration of air-to-surface missiles.