The project began with Fiat's submission in the NATO NBMR-4 design competition for a tactical V/STOL (vertical/short takeoff and landing) transport with jet lift engines. One of more than 12 entries, it was the only project to be pursued to the hardware stage, though the V/STOL feature was abandoned. Originally the powerplants were all Rolls-Royce, the main engines being two Dart turboprops. Four lift jets were to be installed in the rear of each turboprop nacelle. The design changed, lift jets were removed, and new models appeared for including ASW (antisubmarine warfare), military and civil cargo transport, which had outer wings of greater span. In 1966 the design changed to two General Electric T64 main engines and later the 3400 shp T64-P4D single-shaft engine with Hamilton propeller, and put into licence-production by the Fiat engine company.
The original contract was awarded by the Italian air force in 1963 to what was then Societa per Aviazioni Fiat. Initially two prototype G222s were built, the first flying at Turin on July 18, 1970. A production programme was agreed in which Fiat make fuselages at Pomig-lio d'Arco, Naples. Wing centre-sections are made by Piaggio and outer panels by Aermacchi; tails by SIAI-Marchetti; landing gear by CIRSEA; and various other airframe sections by SACA. The Italian air force ordered 44 G222 transports, and Aeritalia marketed the aircraft, achieving limited success with orders for three from Argentina and one from Dubai. A prototype ECM version, the 222VS, equipped with extensive electronic installations and with accommodation for 10 systems operators, was also produced in 1978.
The G.222 entered service in 1976 as a tactical airlifter, certified for operation with a crew of two and can take-off and land on grass strips. Its volumetric capacity allows loads of up to 20,000 lbs, 53 fully equipped soldiers, parachute 42 paratroopers, or to air drop heavy loads up to 11,000 lbs. The plane has a hold accessed by a rear ramp/door for the straight-in loading of bulky items. Production was completed in 1989 with the 90th plane. The type’s major operator was the Italian air force, though smaller quantities were exported to several countries, of which the single largest operator is Libya with a special version produced to avoid export restrictions on American engines and equipment. Principal versions: G222 (basic tactical transport), G222RM (navaid calibration model), G222SAA (firefighting model), G222T (version for Libya with European avionics and engines for improved hot-and-high performance), G222V5 (electronic warfare model).
The transport version had some export success, customers including Argentina (3), Dubai (1), Libya (20), Nigeria (4), Somalia (4), the USA (10) and Venezuela (8). Some G.222s were converted to the radio/radar calibration role and for fire-fighting duties.
Engine: 2 x 3,400-shp (2,535-kW) Fiat-built General Electric T64-GE-P4D turboprops.
Installed pwr: 5070 kW.
Span: 28.7 m.
Length: 22.7 m.
Height: 32 ft 2 in (9.80 m).
Wing area: 82 sq.m/ 882.67 sq ft.
Empty wt: 14,590 kg.
MTOW: 28,000 kg.
Payload: 9000 kg.
Cruise speed: 440 kph.
Initial ROC: 520 m / min.
Max speed: 336 mph /540 kph / 292kt @ 15,010 ft (4,575 m)
Service Ceiling: 25,000ft / 7,620m
T/O run: 660 m.
Ldg run: 545 m.
Fuel internal: 12,000 lt.
Range/payload: 1371 km with 9000 kg
Range/payload: 851 miles (1,370km) with maximum payload.
Capacity: 53 pax.
Engines: 2 x 4,860-shp/3,624-kW Rolls-Royce Tyne Mk 801 turboprops