The Italian Air Force has revealed that its Leonardo EC-27J JEDI (Jamming and Electronic Defence Instrumentation) fleet had flown 5,000 flight hours in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) in Iraq.
The service announced that Task Group Albatros, which operates the EC-27J in the Middle East, had reached this important milestone on February 5. Italy launched operations with the electronic warfare aircraft in support of OIR on August 10, 2016 and has since flown more than 1,000 sorties to counter the threat posed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – also known as Daesh. The Italian Air Force noted that the 5,000 flight hours surmount to “approximately 210 days of uninterrupted coverage of the skies of Iraq.”
Developed by Leonardo, the secretive EC-27J JEDI is an extensively-modified variant of the company’s C-27J Spartan twin-turboprop tactical transport aircraft, which is designed to cover an electronic warfare role. The platform is equipped with the latest generation of glass cockpit avionic systems, a modern self-protection suite and is compatible with night vision goggles (NVGs).
The JEDI subsystems that provide the EC-27J’s capabilities have been patented by the Italian Armed Forces and are mounted on standard NATO pallets rather than being directly integrated onto the aircraft. This provides the Italian Air Force with the ability to quickly reconfigure a C-27J to EC-27J through a ‘roll-on and roll-off’ process, if needed.
The Italian Air Force states that the EC-27J JEDI “carries out surveillance, protection and support missions in the electromagnetic spectrum.” It adds that the platform is “able to conduct a wide range of missions to counter the electromagnetic threat, contributing in particular to the fight against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), and also operate in support of personnel recovery operations.
AirForces Intelligence data states that, as of February 15, 2021, the Italian Air Force employs just two EC-27J JEDI electronic warfare aircraft. These aircraft are MM62221 ’46-85’ (c/n 4132) and MM62224 ’46-89’ (c/n 4135). Both aircraft are operated by 98° Gruppo (98th Squadron) and are based at Pisa San Giusto Airport – otherwise known as Pisa International Airport – in Tuscany, Italy.