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Italy launches C-27J upgrade

The Italian Air Force will fit its C-27J fleet with modernised avionics, upgraded systems, and a new self-protection suite. (Leonardo)

Italy has launched an upgrade programme for its fleet of C-27J Spartan tactical airlifters, with Leonardo and the Italian Defence Ministry's Air Force Armament and Airworthiness Directorate (Armaereo) signing a contract on 7 March.

Under this contract, the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana: AMI) will fit its fleet with modernised avionics, upgraded systems, and a new self-protection suite. It also includes delivery of a new simulator to represent this enhanced configuration.

“Under this contract, the [AMI's] C-27J will receive a significant upgrade of its avionic suite through the integration of new features such as the mission computer, the flight management system, head-up and head-down displays, radio and satellite communication systems, self-protection systems, and other upgrades improving the aircraft's flexibility and operational effectiveness,” Leonardo said in its announcement. “The training system will also be updated on the basis of the new systems introduced onboard, aligning both training devices (flight simulators) and courseware (teaching materials) along with relevant technical publications.”

As noted by Leonardo, the contract covers delivery of the first aircraft to the AMI in this configuration, to potentially be followed by a retrofit to the 11 aircraft already in service. Prior to this Italian agreement, the Royal Australian Air Force recently signed to upgrade its fleet, while the Romanian Air Force and US Special Operations Command are updating the avionics of their aircraft.

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