The first of the 18 refurbished G.222 aircraft to be transferred to the reconstructed Afghan Air Force has been unveiled by Alenia Aeronautica.

The US Air Force had awarded a $287m contract for the modernised G.222s to be given to the Afghan Air Force by the Combined Security Transition Command in Kabul.

The 18 aircraft include versions for VIP transport and belong to different production groups, which meet various production standards and are configured for different uses.

The G.222s previously owned by the Italian Air Force will be fitted with reconfigured systems and avionics, and new autopilot systems and ballistic protection.

Maintenance and modifications will also be performed on the craft.

The Afghan G.222 will operate in difficult scenarios and conditions of extreme altitude and temperature.

The first flight is expected to take place later in July 2009 and deliveries will commence in September 2009.