The first fully configured MC-27J special operations aircraft took to the air for the first time on a test flight from Turin, Italy, announced manufacturer Alenia Aermacchi this week. The mini gunship, which is based on the C-27J Spartan, boasts nose-mounted electro-optical and infrared sensors, and modifications to accommodate the palletized side-firing 30 mm cannon package, according to a company release. The company and weapon system integrator ATK fit-tested the palletized weapon system on a standard C-27J in a series of flight and ground trials at Eglin AFB, Fla., last spring. The companies plan to install the MC-27J’s GAU-23 cannon and cut-out side door ahead of live-fire testing of the full-up gunship configuration in June, states the release. Alenia is building six MC-27Js for the Italian air force, and has purportedly briefed Air Force Special Operations Command on the aircraft, reported IHS Jane’s. The company also is considering external pylons for missiles such as the Griffin, currently carried by AC-130W gunships, according to Jane’s.
Changes are coming this year for Airmen taking professional military education (PME) distance learning courses. Closer interactions with facilitators, a revised capstone course, and more feedback on test performance are meant to improve the overall experience for distance learning students, who often include members of the Air National Guard.