Firms Test-Fire Portable Cannon on MC-27J

Firms Test-Fire Portable Cannon on MC-27J

PARIS — Finmeccanica SpA and Alliant Techsystems Inc. have finished the first phase of a program to add a portable machine gun to the C-27J cargo plane as they hunt for sales abroad, officials said.

The new aircraft, designated MC-27J, is designed to give customers a system that could be used for both cargo and gunship missions, among others.

As part of an ongoing evaluation to demonstrate the concept, the companies installed a 30mm chain gun made by Arlington, Va.-based ATK to the medium-sized military transport plane made by Alenia Aermacchi, part of Rome-based Finmeccanica, using a standard pallet that can be rolled on and off the aircraft.


“From an aircraft perspective, it’s just another pallet,” Ben Stone, chief executive officer of Alenia’s North America unit, said Wednesday during a press conference at the Paris Air Show. “That’s the key to the design.”

The weapon, a modified version of the GAU-23 automatic cannon, was connected to a targeting system made by FLIR Systems Inc. and fired from the plane in a test flight over the Gulf of Mexico in a range operated by Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Video of the exercise showed the projectiles splashing into the water in a line near the target.

The first of three phases finished in March, according to William Kasting, vice president and general manager of ATK’s defense group. The second phase, set to finish in 2014, is designed to fully link the weapon and the targeting system, he said. The third phase, expected to wrap up in 2015, would show the ability to launch a precision-guided munition from the rear of the plane, he said.

Officials declined to say how much the plane would cost or how much they’ve invested in developing and testing the technology. They estimated the size of the potential market at 50 aircraft over 20 to 25 years.

The so-called modular design is meant to appeal to potential customers in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and South America, Kasting said. The company is working on getting exemptions for export licenses from the U.S. government, he said.

“Across the world, especially in this market, you really want the aircraft to do more than one thing,” Bruce VanSkiver, director of airlift programs for Alenia’s North America unit, referring to multiple missions.

The aircraft wasn’t designed for any particular military program, but may align with an effort underway in Italy, officials said. It’s based on the C-27J Spartan, which has been purchased by countries including Italy, Australia and the U.S.

Making a case for the U.S. to buy more of the planes, even so-called multi-mission versions, may be difficult, though. The C-27J is in the middle of a battle between the Air Force’s active-duty component, which says it can’t afford to operate the planes Congress keeps funding, and the Air National Guard, which was to receive the brunt of them.

The Air Force is set to follow through with plans to send the fleet — including brand new aircraft rolling off the assembly line — directly to the service’s boneyard at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. They will sit in storage there unless another federal agency claims them.

The service has spent about $1.6 billion to purchase 21 of the aircraft.

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It is time to stop the nonsense and allow Army aviation to fly fixed wing gunships, convert the mothballed fleet of C-27B (aka C27-J) to a KAC-27C configuration for cargo, ground attack, close air support, counter insurgency, and intra-theater tanker. Put refueling probes on some Army helos.

I put the hyphen in the wrong spot… C-27J not C27-J. Regardless my typographical error, my understanding is that the US designated it C-27B, not C-27J.

MC-27J e Embraer AC-390M . .

Embraer KC-390

Embraer KC-390 Cargo

Embraer AC-390M

Say something we can understand please.…just a hint.

A single Bushmaster does not a gunship make though. Not for sustained CAS.

The GAU 23, which is not a light gun (more the 1lb bullet), is complemented with PGMs and further weapons can be installed on hard points if required. Please note that as far as I know all new USAF gunship (AC-130W,AC-130J) foreseen one gun only .The plane is agile and not an heavy one you can send more than one if necessary.
Anyway flessibility and riconfigurability requires some compromises.

Sorry for my english correct last sentence:
Anyway flexibility and reconfigurability require some compromises

I agree about the compromises. The new AC-130Js do indeed only have one gun, but has twice the hardpoints, carrying twice the HAWK pods. The AC-130Js also have the gunslinger system, 10 round magazines of Griffins. The MC-27J will be a good strike/patrol aircraft, but it’s smaller size will impact it in a sustained CAS role.

Gunslinger from ramp or alternative CLTs door/ramp installations with pressurized conditions with rear door closed are foreseen for MC-27J too.
The aircraft can carry more than 10 griffins or similar PGMs (may be 20, 10 on the launcher and 10 in internal storage) .
Again hard points for heavier weapons are a feasible option Customer related.
Being a smaller plane of course it cannot have the AC-130J payload, aim is to provide “similar” but “not equal” capabilities staying exportable to Allies and with an affordable price.
The plane is not conceived to compete directly with AC-130J in US market.
The Customer can use more platforms if needed in the battlefield with the advantage that if one platform is unfortunately down some coverage is still provided in the area (even an AC-130J cannot survive to a direct lucky RPG or heavy SAM hit)
It can be normally used as cargo in peacetime leaving the mission/weapon pallet kit at MOB when not requested.

Read the article.. They are sending them to the bone yard for a reason.. Not that they are incapable aircraft. It is because the USAF doest have the noney to maintain and/or fly them. They dont have the man power to maintain or fly them. They already own aircraft that can do its mission that is paid for and have MX and flying squadrons supporting.. Budget cuts dont allow this.. The End-Strength of the USAF is only getting smaller. Existing flying units are on reduced if not non-existent Training Flying-Hour program. This is just a victom of current budget restraints.

Steve… USAF costs, analysis, budget, etc., are no longer relevant to this, as the USAF has decided to not make any use of the small fleet of new C-27B(J). They should be returned to the Army.

Congress, in their Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, had required the Air Force to retain an additional 32 aircraft above the Air Force’s requested numbers, using any combination of C-27J and/or C-130 aircraft at the Air Force’s option. At a press conference held on January 11, 2013, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said that the Air Force will stand by the original plan to divest its C-27J aircraft, and are looking at how the additional 32 C-130 will be distributed. So rather than keep the new fleet of C-27J, the Air Force will retain 32 old C-130 that they had been looking to dump, older high time crates that were headed to the boneyard, probably in need of expensive overhaul and updates.

If the Air Force can’t put this small fleet of new aircraft to good use, they should be returned to the Army.

Regardless that… The Navy is looking to begin replacing the C-2A Greyhound in 2024 for COD (carrier onboard delivery) with a new CATOBAR compatible medium lift intra-theater cargo aircraft that will complement the sea basing concepts. As was the case with the C-27B(J) Spartan, the Navy’s new medium lift cargo aircraft will likely have a cargo area cross section similar to the C-130 for compatibility. Marines will need it to be usable from short soft rough field runways. So while the Army wasn’t looking for a tailhook, the plane that the Navy and Marines may acquire may be the one to perform the mission that the Army wants performed. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Not true the AC130W is being tested with the 105mm and it should follow suit on the AC130J

Reality is regardless if we are talking new or old.. Aircraft take Maintainers to fix and Operators to fly. Without that its just a static display somewhere. The largest portion of the defense budget is personnel and investments related to personnel such as training.. To keep these aircraft in the USAF inventory on active status would mean investment in MX and OPS for personnel and training.
USAF has already invested in C-130 squadrons and has supply chain and huge supply of parts. To keep existing aircraft going vs standing up new C27 squadrons and MX support is money the USAF don’t have. Current squadrons are operating under reduced flying hours, some are in shut down due to lack of funding for flying hour training. Since C-130’s can do the job and there is supply parts to fix (depot and boneyard) it is more cheap to fly C130 plus C130 can do more, haul more..
To take these plains to DM as the article said they can be utilized (obtained) by another agency. Such as the Army or… However The USAF is lead on CAS. Hince the A-10, AC-130, F-35, F-16) The A-10 is the Army grunt’s best friend when it comes to CAS.

Tail hook the C-27J with all the weapons cache for carrier landings…easy modification.

Seems to little to late from the Italian makers. The AC-130U can have many more cannons and carry alot more ammo for them with longer range.

The A-10 proved to be a useful Congressional over-ride; but this C-27J looks to be a real boondoggle.

“The Air Force is set to follow through with plans to send the fleet — including brand new aircraft rolling off the assembly line — directly to the service’s boneyard at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. They will sit in storage there unless another federal agency claims them.

The service has spent about $1.6 billion to purchase 21 of the aircraft.”

from the assembly line to the boneyard in one fell swoop. Pitiful. We certainly have not heeded Eisenhower’s warning that we avoid the military-industrial complex.

THE US ARMY IS NOT ALLOW TO HAVE FIXED WING GUNSHIPS BY FEDERAL LAW, TELL CONGRESS TO CHANGE THE LAW

If you check Wikipedia http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​L​o​c​k​h​e​e​d​_​A​C​-​130

You’ll notice that they’ve had the 105mm Howitzer for a few decades now…

Skip the cannon. Let Army Aviation have them and then they can show the Air Force how to use the Spartan’s! :-)

What makes you think the Army can afford (or wants to afford) the C27 any more than the AF? Just wondering…?

Why on earth would anyone tell congress that? The army is not allowed fixed-wing aircraft for good reason. Fixed-wing aircraft actually fly by properties of physics which army personnel find great difficulty in grasping. Rotary wing aircraft simply beat the air into submission and are so ugly, the ground repels them. These types of aircraft are perfectly suited for army use.

We shouldn’t be flying foreign crap anyway.

Indeed, a scaled down C-130 from Lockheed might not be a bad idea.

Exactly what I was thinking. Another consideration, that maybe the Army should think about is fuel usage. Modern turbo props/axial turbines, and fewer propulsion units per aircraft, mean the conservative side can win by logistical means alone. With so many special operational requirements, I’d think smaller is better in many regards.

Fuel consumption and small unit tactical considerations.

105 mm Hotwitzer is obsolete nowday it has been replaced by last generation SOPGM (Griffin for example) to install the old big gun does not provides any advantage it will increase the stress on the plane only, gliding laser/GPS PGM provide better accuracy and range and can be used at higher altitude.
But of course if you love the old boy keep it on the larger AC-130 platform.

Again MC-27J aim is not to replace AC-130s but to complement them where the Hercs are exceeding the requirement for the scenario or not available or not exportable

Foreign Crap? look the US content in MC-27J , more than 70% of green aircraft is US origin, the MC-27J mission and weapon system is made and developed by ATK , all peculiar mods will be introduced in US at Fort Worth , ATK will be the prime if the US will purchase the plane.
Anyway EADS is going to produce a gunship variant of C-295 with much much less or even close to zero US Conten, killing C-27J you are giving advantage to EADS that as you know is the bigger competitor of US companies.
Do you think that your proposal is so patriotic?

To adapt to Carrier operation will require:
– Arrestor hook
– Foldable outer wings
– Foldable Fin/Rudder
These are feasible but not cheap mods

The old big gun still has one old big advantage: it’s CHEAP. Hellfires are about $100k. Griffins are unknown, but maybe $60k. When you need exact accuracy, you can load a $50k guided shell in the gun.

When you are in open ground however is when the big gun shines, as a standard HE shell is only $140. The army is also working on a PGK, a JDAM-style kit to add guidance to standard HE arty shells.

US doesn’t have any guided round (yet) in 105mm caliber suitable for this howitzer.
The “old” STAFF rounds are defunct, if any even still exist, and the US doesn’t buy LAHATs from Israel.
There are others out there, a notable one from an Eastern European customer who teamed with CMI Defence for their 105mm CT-CV gun system, but both it and LAHAT are designed for firing from high-pressure tank guns, not howitzers.
Russia has developed 100mm guided munitions for its various 100mm guns, but the US never followed a similar course in developing PGMs for all its big-bore guns.

And even if the US’ PGK fuze does eventually port over to 105mm as was planned, the time it would take to prep the shell on the plane (install the fuze and program it) and everything else involved, might as well just have launched a pylon weapon or internal PGM which was already set.

The Navy is not looking for COD replacemenent with any C-130 commonality in the cargo area, as the Navy has no need to move vehicles by air.
Their biggest concern now is that the current C-2 cannot carry an F-35 engine sealed in its “factor fresh” storage/shipping container,
but rather, the engine has to be taken out and mounted in a special cradle designed to be transported in the C-2.
So then the USN has a bunch of uncrated engines that have to be stored in the carrier somewhere secure from salt air environment and any rough handling.
That’s a more primary concern for the USN than moving vehicles.
If the USMC wants a vehicle flyer, the USN isn’t going to be shuttling USMC ground vehicles aboard the big nuclear carriers.
If anything, a fixed wing STOL transport that could move a JLTV off the deck of of an amphib “Marine aircraft carrier” woulds be of greater use to the USMC, but why would Navy fund anything of the sort if Navy has no need of it?

You forgot the nose gear and main airframe elements have to be strong enough for catapult launch, AND the whole airframe and landing gear has to be strengthened to endure hundreds of “controlled crashes” for all the carrier landings it must perform over its lifetime.

Compared to a CVN operating in a CSG, a CVN attached to a sea base in support of an amphibious operation might be taking on some other roles, where COD to the CVN would be the only means of fixed wing cargo transport to the sea base. CH-35E/K could move a large heavy item from ship to ship after it arrives aboard the CVN, but first you have to get it to the CVN’s CATOBAR flight deck.

another typo… should be CH-53 (obviously not CH-35)

This has got to be a real embarrassment for LockMart. They tried to put a gun on their Marine “gunship” but failed. Eventually the Marines got tired of waiting and took delivery of the airplane with missiles only and tried to spin that into some sort of war time procurement model of cooperation. Behind the scenes, though, the Marines were quite unhappy.

One of the arguments against the earlier trials with the 30mm Bushmaster gun from the AC-130s was that it wasn’t accurate enough.
Personally I blame that on whoever designed and installed the mounting system for it into the aircraft: there are several hundred, if not a thousand or more, 30mm Bushmaster III/MK44 guns the world over mounted in AFVs, and none of their users are crying about gun accuracies.
Ditto for the USN using it in the MK44/46 mount on the San Antonios, and the LCS Surface Warfare Mission Module.
If the gun is so lacking in accuracy, why still so many users?
The fail was the USAF’s integration of the weapon, not the weapon itself.

As I understand it, that “whoever” was Lockheed. I can’t imagine how they turned this into such a fiasco, but the US military must love these goat-ropes because they pay their contractors more to screw up than they do if they come in with a good product on-time and on-budget. Hell, if you’re getting exactly what you paid for, then it seems clear that the fault doesn’t lay with the seller.

You sound like an aviator.

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