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Some images of the EC-27J JEDI operating as part of the Task Group Albatros. (All images credit: Italian Air Force)

The little known EC-27J JEDI (Jamming and Electronic Defense Instrumentation) aircraft is the only non-American asset flying the Electronic Support and Protection mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).

The EC-27J JEDI is a variant of the successful Leonardo C-27J Spartan military transport aircraft that has been heavily modified to perform Electronic Warfare missions: the aircraft carries an internal JEDI system that is coupled with a tail antenna to to jam the frequency bands used to remotely operate IEDs and UAVs, in order to neutralize them and thus protect personnel on the ground around areas of interest.

As already explained when the first details about the secretive aircraft (whose official designation is YEC-27J in accordance with Italy’s MOD Mission Design Series) were disclosed by the Italian Air Force on the 2021 calendar, at least two C-27J aircraft have been converted to the EC-27J variant, with one deployed to Erbil, Iraq, for “Prima Parthica” (as the Italian Armed Forces contingent supporting Operation Inherent Resolve is dubbed at national level), established on Oct. 17, 2014.

The JEDI system has been completely designed by the ReSTOGE (Reparto Supporto Tecnico Operativo Guerra Elettronica – Electronic Warfare Technical Support Department), based at Pratica di Mare airbase. This unit is responsible for compiling, updating and managing the EW (Electronic Warfare) and self-protection libraries of all the Italian Air Force aircraft. The JEDI package can be installed on standard NATO pallets so as to quickly reconfigure the capability by means of a “roll-on and roll off” procedure.

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A close up image of the EC-27J JEDI of the 46^ Brigata Aerea from Pisa deployed in Iraq.

In Iraq, the JEDI operates as part of Task Group “Albatros”, a team made by personnel from the ReSTOGE and the 46^ Brigata Aerea (Air Brigade) that oversees the whole Italian Air Force C-27J and C-130J fleet at Pisa airport. The Task Group has moved to Erbil from Kuwait, where it was initially based, in December 2017. The unit has recently celebrated the achievement of 5,000 flight hours (which equals to 210 days of uninterrupted coverage) flown with the EC-27J JEDI over Iraq since Aug. 10, 2016. Interestingly, the EC-27J of the Italian Air Force is the only non-American asset flying the Electronic Support and Protection mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

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The Italian Air Force EC-27J sitting on the apron at sunset. Barely visible is the peculiar tail antenna.