[ Part 2 ]
Canadian Forces FWSAR Project – SAR Country Comparison – Italy – February
FWSAR: Italian Style — Aerial Search-and-Rescue in Italy [ Part 2 ]
The online magazine, l'Italia nel mondo, informs Canadians that "the C-27J is the best answer to the need of renewing the
Search and Rescue airlift fleet". No further justification of the
claim is deemed necessary – the C-27J is judged the answer to FWSAR. But, as we've seen, even the
Italian government declined to use the Alenia tactical transport as its primary aerial SAR aircraft
For fixed-wing search-and-rescue, Italy prefered operating more economical aircraft rather than tactical
transports. At first, the primary FWSAR role fell to the diminutive Piaggio P.166 utility transport fitted with a search radar. The P.166s were backed up by larger
military ASW patrol aircraft. That SAR system is now being rationalized with updated P.166s matched with
two patrol types based on the ATR airliner.
The ATR series of commuter airliners are a joint Franco-Italian project intended to rival aircraft like
the DeHavilland Canada Dash-8 (now Bombardier's Q series). In light of the ATR's origins, it is not
unexpected that maritime patrol derivatives would be marketed to challenge the success of the Dash-8 MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) developed by Bombardier with Field
Fixed-Wing Search-and-Rescue in Italy – Equipping Italian Airframes with Italian
As responsibility for primary search and rescue in Italy falls to the Guardia Costiera (the Italian Coast
Guard), it makes sense that ATR's patrol variant has been chosen for that service. The aircraft – the
ATR 42 MP (Maritime Patrol) Surveyor (left) – is a conversion of the short-fuselaged ATR 42
commuter airliner. The ATR 42 MP is fitted with mission systems almost entirely made in Italy by other
subsidiaries of Alenia's owner, the state- controlled Finmeccanica SpA.  The ATR 42 MP carries belly radar, an
E/O turret, a searchlight, plus a "multi-purpose" pod.
Visually, the ATR 42 MP Surveyor is distinguished from the airliner by fuselage hardpoints and observation
bubble windows. On the starboard fuselage hardpoint is the 80-to-100 candlepower searchlight –
behind which is a Galileo EOST-23 E/O turret mounted in the rear of the starboard undercarriage sponson. On the
port fuselage hardpoint is the multi-purpose pod.  A surface- search radar (with a range of 330 km)
is belly-mounted. SAR survival packs are stored inside the cabin aft of the port observation window and
launched through the air-openable portside door. Palletized equipment (and access for major equipment changes) is
via a forward port cargo door.
Commonality and Common Benefit – FWSAR Aircraft Procurement as Economic Stimulant?
In keeping with Italy's policy of employing an Italian-made aircraft wherever possible and of buying similar models
of Italian-made aircraft for most government air services, the ATR 42 MP has been bought for
the Guardia di Finanza (which acts as an Italian Customs patrol flight). These two ATR 42 MP variants are
virtually identical in their layout and equipment. The Guardia Costiera is slated to
receive three ATR 42 MP Surveyors. At the time of writing, there are two such aircraft now in
service with the 3° Nucleo Aereo based at Pescara-D'Abruzzo. 
The air wing of the Guardia di Finanza (Aereo della GfF ) will receive four (some sources say
five) ATR 42 MPs. Two Surveyors are already flying in Guardia di Finanza service. Unlike the colourful
ATR 42 MPs of the Guardia Costiera, the Guardia di Finanza are marked with AMI roundels and
low-visibility grey finish (aside from a green and gold sash).
The primary role for Italian ATR 42 MP Surveyor is maritime surveillance, including: search and rescue, vessel
search / identification / surveillance, coastal surveillance and pollution detection.
Alenia Aeronautica ATR 42 MP Surveyor FWSAR/Surveillance Aircraft – Specifications
|| 7 (pilot, copilot, coordinator, 2 x systems
operators, 2 x mission specialists)
|| 2 x 1610 kW (2160 shp) P&WC PW127E turboprops driving
|| Max: 518 km/h (280 kts) at 4876 m (16000 ft) 280 kts,
range 2035 km (1000 nm)
|| Wing span 24.6 m, wing
area 54.5 m2, length (overall ) 22.7 m, height 7.6 m
|| Empty equipped: 11,250 kg, maximum take-off:
18,600 kg (payload 5,450 kg)
Marketing the Brand – Italian FWSAR Aircraft and Tactical Transports are Sold
Besides the Italian services, Alenia ATR 42 MP Surveyors have been successfully marketed to Nigeria
(with two ATR 42 MPs, the first to be delivered in 2009) and to Libya (one ATR 42 MP) to be flown in patrol
and aerial search-and-rescue roles by the Libyan General Security Agency. Both Nigeria and Libya are users of
the earlier Fiat G.222 who are being marketed
Alenia has also been aggressively marketing its products to India since 2003. Right now, Alenia is pushing the
ATR 42 MP or its larger cousin, the ATR 72 MP (below), for SAR/maritime patrol while their C-27J is marketed as a
fall-back in case the joint Russo-Indian multi-role transport air- craft, the Irkut-HAL (state-owned
Hindustan Aeronautics) MS-21 MRTA project, should fail.
From Canada's perspective, the important point is that Alenia matches its ATR-based FWSAR/ maritime patrol aircraft
with their C-27J tactical transport in almost every case. Canada is the one exception. The reason is obvious. If
Canada took the Italian approach to FWSAR, we would be flying the locally-made Dash-8 MPA not ATRs. The
only hope of an Alenia sale to Canada is to keep marketing C-27J tactical transports as FWSAR while downplaying
its ATR 42 MP success.
ATR 72 MP – Enlarged Alenia Airliner to Replace More Expensive Anti-Submarine Aircraft?
The ATR 72 is a stretched variant of ATR 42 with more powerful engines. The ATR 72 MP adaptations are
similar to those of the ATR 42 MP with the notable additions of counter- measures and the MAD tail
'stinger' to detect submarines. Sources vary as to whether ATR 72 MPs will replace or augment the in-service ASW Breguet
Atlantics. The latter seem more likely in view of the ATR's modest armament. 
Whereas the ATR 42 MP was aimed at the FWSAR and sovereignty patrol market, the longer ATR
72 MP is intended to be a more combat-capable aircraft. The first interest in this type came from the Turkish Navy
which ordered 10. Then Italy followed with orders for four ATR 72 MPs.
As with the in-service Atlantics, Italian military ATR 72 MPs will be military patrol aircraft
first with aerial SAR as a secondary role. In other words, the Italians will benefit from a great degree of
commonality from three fleets of ATR derivatives. The ATR 72 MP will be skewed toward military roles,
the more economical ATR 42 MPs will take on FWSAR as the primary role (backed by even more economical P.166s).
No doubt the Italian military would prefer more 'martial' aircraft. And they might get them if such aircraft
were built in Italy. Until then, the AMI will fly Italian.
 Field Aviation of Toronto has been responsible for adapting the Dash-8-200/Q200 and Q300 for sovereignty
patrol and FWSAR roles. Bombardier provides 'green' airframes for conversion.
 Finmeccanica was formerly state-owned and is now partially government-controlled (32.3%). Finmeccanica
subsidiaries account for more than 70% of the Italian defense industry's activities.
 This 'multi-purpose' position normally mounts an armaments pod for a 12.7 mm machinegun. The twin
fuselage pylons are made by OMA SpA as is the searchlight. Other equipment is made by Finmeccanica subsidiaries:
ESM by Elettronica SpA (now part-owned by Thales), comms by Elmer SpA (100% owned by Finmeccanica), and mission
system ( MPMS ) by Galileo Avionica.
 The 3° NA will operate from Pescara as a mixed unit with ATR 42 MPs and P.166-DL3 SEMs.
 This flexible but aggressive marketing approach is worth study by Canadian aerospace firms.
 In the late '80s, while DeHavilland Canada was part of Boeing, an ASW variant of the Dash 8 was unsuccessfully
offered as the Triton (largest of the proposed series being the Dash 8M-300 ASW Triton). These
aircraft were to have four underwing pylons as well as fuselage hardpoints (for Harpoon or Exocet
missiles). A MAD tail 'stinger' was to be installed along with the usual ASW search radar and other
sensors. Fully equipped, endurance was to be more than 11 hours.