Giordo: Alenia Must Take a Central Role in European UAV Development
As Europe moves toward common medium-altitude, low-endurance (MALE) UAV and combat UAV programs, the head of Italian firm Alenia Aermacchi has ruled out taking anything but a central role in pending programs.
France and the U.K.are known to want to take a steering role in any joint UAV development in Europe, even if France has recently talked of opening up UAV cooperation to Italy and Germany
But Giuseppe Giordo, CEO of Finmeccanica unit Alenia Aermacchi, suggested he would resist Anglo-French dominance.
“We don’t want a secondary role,” he said on the eve of the Farnborough International Airshow. “The Anglo-French alliance is not going at a speed which puts us in a crisis. There is still time to sit at the table and the Italian government has been very clear on this, both with regard to MALE and UCAV development.”
Alenia Aermacchi has led Italy’s UAV development with its Sky-X and Sky-Y programs, and has partnered France’s Dassault on the pan-European Neuron UCAV program, which could fly this year, but may be overshadowed by a new Anglo-French effort.
“In the UAV field you need to put your technology on the table and we were the first to demonstrate ours,” Giordo said.
A “large European alliance,” he said, could yet be based on an enlargement of the Neuron alliance, he said.
Alenia Aermacchi will meanwhile look to the Italian government to take the lead in pushing Italian interests, Giordo added. “Our MALE strategy is to follow government accords. Three months ago we signed with Cassidian to study a new generation MALE UAV after a government agreement and a deal between Italy’s and Germany’s industry associations,” he said.
Turning to other Alenia Aermacchi activity, Giordo said a contract with Israel for the sale of the M346 jet trainer was “very close,” following Israel’s selection of the aircraft. Giordo added he was still “confident” that the UAE would purchase the M346 after selecting the aircraft in 2009, then suspending talks after a dispute over a side deal on UAVs.
“Every time there is a competition, we win,” said Giordo, who predicts 2,000 M346 sales in the next 25 years.
The first of four ATR 72 in maritime patrol configuration that Alenia Aermacchi plans to deliver to the Italian Air Force is meanwhile undergoing tests at the firm’s Caselle facility in northern Italy, Giordo said.
Italy has also sold the ATR 42 in maritime patrol format to the Italian Coast Guard, and Giordo said the two models would represent a standard format for export campaigns. That reflects a decision by parent company Finmeccanica to no longer market other variants, including the ATR 72 in anti-submarine configuration, which has been sold to Turkey but is bogged down by delays.
On Tuesday at Farnborough, Alenia Aermacchi will present its MC-27J, an armed, multi-mission version of its C-27J tactical cargo lifter, which it has developed with ATK.
The new configuration relies on a roll-on, roll-off function to allow the aircraft to undertake a variety of missions including gunship, stand off missiles, Command and Control, ISR and communications rebroadcast.
In a parallel development, the firm is working on a C-27J special forces gunship for the Italian Air Force, which also uses roll-on, roll-off systems.
The Italian Air Force has meanwhile been undertaking inflight refueling tests using a C-27J and its new KC-767A tanker.