Cast your mind back a few months and we discussed the potential for using transport aircraft as gunships, combat ISTAR, electronic warfare and even maritime patrol by using roll on roll off palletised and pylon mounted equipment.
A couple of months before I looked at Orbital ATK and their work with Jordan on the C235/295 gunship development that made use of palletised automatic cannons.
Now it seems Oto Melara have joined the list of suppliers of palletised systems.
After initial flight trials they are planning final qualification for the Italian Air Force.
Instead of a 30mm Bushmaster the Oto Melara system uses a 20mm M61A1 Vulcan multi-barrel cannon coupled to a modified Selex Janus electro optical and infra red sensor pod. It is mounted on a 463L pallet making it adaptable for many transport aircraft. The retractable rail system allows it to be deployed only when in targeting mode. When loaded with 750 rounds it weighs less than 1.6 tonnes and has a battery for autonomous operation independent of the aircraft’s power system. The whole system is completely self-contained on the pallet
The whole system is completely self-contained on the pallet, even the gunners chair.
Oto Melara developed the system after receiving €2m development funding from the Italian MoD, no €2m is not a printing error!
Six are expected to come into service in 2016.
Jane’s has a good article on the system, here.
The bit that I found most interesting though was not the weapon system but this;
As well, it noted that a separate Italian company was developing a second palletised command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4ISR) system that would add datalink capabilities to the Gunship system and function and allow a transport aircraft to function as both a gunship and an airborne command post for ground operations.
A European Harvest Hawk perhaps, not as mad as many people claim.