Fiat G.222 Cervino - Early Design Work
The G222 program, for a multirole, medium range, twin engine turboprop aircraft, was born out of a specific requirement of the Italian Air Force. The objective was to obtain an aircraft with a high level of flexibility in its use, coupled with excellent handling characteristics and reduced operating costs. The origin of the Aeritalia G 222, one of the most successful Italian planes, was following a NATO specifications called NBMR-4 ( NATO Basic Military Requirement-4 - NBMR-4) of the 1962, where many tactical transports V/STOL ( Vertical/Short Take Off landing ) projects were born. Fiat's G.222 Cervino was a natural outgrowth of a submission in the subsequent NBMR-22 competition.
On 22 November 1962 the official presentation took place of the G.222 project, where "G" stands for the surname of the chief-designer Giuseppe Gabrielli (best known for WWII Fiat fighters), "two" to indicate the adopted two-engine formula and "22" as number of order of the NATO specification "NBMR 22". The contract the Italian Air Force signed with the FIAT factory in 1963 proceeded, and over time the design was substantially modified, with greater focus on conventional flight characteristics.
As envisaged in 1963, the G.222 would be powered by two 3,030-3,245 s.h.p. RoIls-Royce Dart turboprops in long nacelles that would each also house three RB 162-31 lift jets. Such an installation would not permit VTOL operation at the gross weight of 35,0001b, but the G.222 would be able to reach 50ft in 650ft in a STOL take-off at full weight, and would land in the same distance. Vertical take-off would, of course, be possible at forward airstrips after fuel had been burned on the outward journey. Stabilization during VTOL and low-speed flight would be by a system of air-bleed jets. Typical payloads include 40 fully-equipped troops, 32 paratroops, 24 stretcher cases or three jeeps, which could be carried 750 miles at 250 mph.
This early design could certainly fulfil a variety of military and civil missions. It would be an enlightening exercise to compare it in detail with the STOL Breguet 941. In cruising flight the G.222 should be more efficient, for it has a smaller wing and less drag. But the fuel consumption with lift jets at full thrust will obviously be much higher, so the relative merits of the two aircraft will depend upon the proportion of each mission spent in the high-lift configuration.
It was announced in Bonn on 03 April 1964 that the governments of Italy and the Federal Republic of Germany were jointly to develop a V/STOL ground-attack fighter to replace the Fiat G.91 tactical aircraft used by both nations. It had earlier been reported that the design chosen was the Fiat G.95/4, but the official statement by the German Defence Ministry named the Focke-Wulf 1262 (VAK-191) as the chosen aircraft. Such a decision has been expected for at least 18 months, during which time negotiations had also been in progress for the joint development by the two countries of a V/STOL tactical transport. In the case of the transport the competing designs were the turboprop Fiat G.222 and vectored-thrust Dornier 31.
By mid-1965 it was envisaged that the G.222 military transport, although initially designed for V/STOL operation with the assistance of three RB.162 lift engines in each of its two Dart turboprop nacelles, was to be completed at first as a completely conventional design. The nacelle-mounted lift engines may be added at a later stage, if required, to give V/STOL capability. The G.222 was competing with a new design, the Piaggio RP.180, for an Italian air force C-119 replacement contract, but was also being offered for ASW duties. Nearly every major Italian aircraft company, including Aerfer, Agusta, Aermacchi, Finmeccanica, Piaggio and SIAI-Marchetti, as well as Fiat, were involved in G.222 design and development.
The G.222 Aircraft is a STOL, twin turboprop military aircraft for tactical transportation of cargo, and troops over short and medium ranges. Capable of taking-off with a maximum weight of 26,500 Kg in less than 500 meters, but also of flying at a 260 ktas speed and at a cruise altitude of 30,000 feet, the G.222 still today shows its excellent performances; and this is due to its having been specifically designed as tactical transport aircraft for operational scenarios to replace the obsolete transport machines in service with the air force in the world in the 1970s and to be integrated with the bigger and widespread C-130 Hercules aircraft.
The G.222, twin-engine tactical transport aircraft has made the history of Italian aerospace industry: today still to be considered pride of the "made in Italy", and above all father of one of Alenia Aeronautica's most successful programmes, the C-27J Spartan. Capable of carrying out many missions, among which troops and cargo transport, medical evacuation and cargo and paratroopers drops, the G.222 is still today a valid alternative to the bigger-size transport aircraft, thanks to its performances, to the short take-off and landing run to its extreme operational versatility.
Among its advantages, the aircraft has the capability to operate in difficult environmental conditions (high altitude and high temperatures) with short takeoff and landing on semi-prepared strips of only 500 meters in length. The G222 is also capable of covering a wide variety of missions both in the military field (53 passenger transport, aeroambulance, paratrop/material drops) and civil field (firefighting, anti-pollution, emergency aid to populations hit by natural disasters, container transport, etc.).
In 1968 an offical contract was signed to develop two prototypes and one structure for static tests. By this time, the dimensions of the G.222 were considerably larger than initially envisaged, though it remained a twin-turboprop design. Wingspan was progressively increased four times during the design process, becoming 50% larger (from 18.10m long in 1963 to 27.50m in the final form), and the maximum takeoff weight had grown from 35,000 pounds to over 60,000 pounds. The initial designation was G.222TCM. The project aimed to replace the old Fairchild C-119 cargo planes which at that time were still in use with the Italian Air Force. After some problems, the first prototype flew on 18 July 1970, the second prototype joined the program on 21 July 1971.
The first Italian Air Force's squadron to have received the aircraft was in 1978 the 98th Group of the then called 46th Transport Air Wing, followed by the 2nd Group. In Italy the G.222's activity has constantly been focused during the years not only on the support to ItAF operations, but also on the humanitarian, civil protection and out-of-area peace missions. During all these years the G.222 has proved to be a reliable, strong aircraft, capable of carrying out missions also in the most complex scenarios (Somalia, Lebanon, Timor East) and to achieve a good success in the international markets.
Since its first delivery, one hundred and six G.222s have been delivered to the Air Forces of nine other countries around the world: Italy, Argentina, Dubai, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Thailand, United States (C-27), Venezuela. No longer in production starting from the 90s, as of 2010 it was still operational within many air forces among which: Nigerian Air Force, Royal Thai Air Force, Ejercito Argentino, US Department of State, Italian Air Force (in the electronic warfare VS version), also thanks to the efficiency of the logistic support provided by Alenia Aeronautica.
A total lf 10 C-27As were procured as G222s by Chrysler Technologies-now L-3 Integrated Systems-in Waco, TX in 1990 & 1991 and modified to C-27A configuration for delivery to the United States Air Force. These aircraft were based at Howard Air Force Base in Panama and operated by SOUTHCOM. The mission of the C-27As was to provide Forward Operating Base (FOB) support for SOUTHCOM interests in the Central and South American theatre and supported counter narcotics efforts in cooperation with allies in the region including Columbia and Peru.
The G.222 was written-off by the Italian Air Force [AMI] in September 2005. Only two aircrafts has been kept in service, one of which, the G.222VS, Special Version, for the electronic warfare missions. Today the G.222 has the opportunity to be used again in all its operational capabilities, thanks to Alenia Aeronautica ability to offer the former ItAF aircraft to the international market, with systems and avionics upgrade. The first customer for these aircraft, now Alenia Aeronautica property, has been the Nigerian Air Force that has ordered an ex-ItAF unit in addition to the 5 ordered originally, which still Alenia is upgrading in Nigeria to bring them to the operational status.
A new success in the USA for Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company, came on 30 September 2008 when its subsidiary Alenia North America was awarded a 287 million dollars contract by the United States Air Force for 18 refurbished G.222 tactical transport aircraft. Through the United States Air Force's Combined Air Power Transition Force based in Kabul, the G.222s, operated until 2005 by the Italian Air Force, will be supplied to the Afghanistan National Army Air Corps (ANAAC). The aircraft will be delivered commencing in 2009 and deliveries will continue through 2011.
The United States Air Force determined that the G.222's capabilities for ANAAC is vital to achieving long term stability in Afghanistan. The G.222s, operated until 2005 by the Italian Air Force and the U.S. Air Force during the 1990s as the C-27A, are capable of delivering ten tons of cargo, transporting vehicles, and providing medical evacuation for 36 patients. The aircraft's ability to perform at high altitudes makes it a well matched solution to satisfy Afghanistan's medium transport aircraft requirement. The G.222 is known for its robust, rugged military design and its ability to operate in austere conditions from unprepared and short landing strips.
|year of specification||1963|
|Powerplant||Two 3,030 h.p. RDa.10 plus|
six RB. 162-31
|Overall length (ft)||63|
|Max cruise (mph)||250|
|Typical range||750 miles at 13,700 ft STOL|
|Field performance||655ft to 50ft; VTOL at 28,0001b|
|Primary Role||Tactical airlift|
|Original Contractor||Aeritalia Fiat (later aquired by Alenia, S.P.A.)|
|Wingspan||94 feet, 2 inches (28.7m)|
|Length||74 feet, 6 inches (22.7m)|
|Height at Tail||32 feet, 2 inches (9.8m)|
|Engines||Two Fiat-built General Electric T64-GE-P4D turboprops|
|Horsepower||3,400 shp each|
|Cruise Speed||273 mph (439km/h)|
|Max Speed||336 mph (540km/h)|
|Range||2,500 nm (4,633km)|
|Service Ceiling||25,000 feet (7,620m)|
|Operating Weight||34,612 pounds (15,700kg)|
|Max Payload||19,841 pounds (9,000kg)|
|Max Takeoff Weight||61,728 pounds (28,000kg)|
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|