On 5 August 2021, the Italian Ministro della Difesa (Ministry of Defence – MoD) released the Documento Programmatico Pluriennale 2021–23, which will likely secure initial funding for two future strategic requirements of the Aeronautica Militare (ItAF, Italian Air Force).
One is the acquisition of two new Boeing KC-767A strategic transport/tanker aircraft above the four examples already in use with the 14° Stormo at Pratica di Mare (RM), near Rome. These two aircraft will be fitted to the same standard of the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus, currently being operated by the USAF and Boeing has orders from Israel and Japan.
With more than 30,000 flight hours since they entered in 2011 active service (a milestone achieved in 2020), the four AMI Boeing KC-767As have proven to be a force multiplier not only for the Italian Ministro della Difesa, but also for the NATO allies.
The second acquisition is the development of three Leonardo (former Alenia) MC-27J Praetorian special operations aircraft. The MC-27J Pretorian is a development of the Alenia C-27J Spartan for multi-mission purposes, including Command and Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C3-ISR), Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) and Combat Support operations.
The MC-27J can support Special Operations Forces and ground troops with direct fire while also performing armed ISR, Close Air Support (CAS) and Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR).
Already in July 2012, Alenia (now Leonardo) announced its intention to offer an upgrade programme for existing C-27Js to the MC-27J configuration in the future.
It was developed as an private venture, but the Aeronautica Militare had already in 2016 the intentions to convert three C-27Js into Pretorean standard. Although the prototype with serial CSX62127 was reportedly successfully tested, no orders were placed in the previous years. This Documento Programmatico Pluriennale 2021–23 will see the initial funding.
Photo by José Damián González Martínez