06 June 2006

Army Cargo Plane Program Moving Forward

The Army wants its own fixed wing cargo planes to handle heavy lift helicopter sized loads, faster, with greater range, and cheaper. It will be small than, but similar in concept to, a C-130. This program, despite some hiccups, appears to be moving forward.

[T]he Army is planning on procuring 33 Future Cargo Aircraft between 2007 and 2011 to replace its aging C-23 Sherpa and some of its C-12 Huron aircraft.

The deal is expected to cost about $30 million each, considerably less than a new C-130. No R&D money is involved, as the buy must be off the shelf technology.

So far so far no viable U.S. candidates could meet the Army’s requirements . . . The two contenders for the program, Alenia North America, a Finmeccanica company, and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS) North America, a parent company of the European giant Airbus . . . Alenia is based in Italy, and EADS’s office locations include Munich and Paris.

The Alenia proposal, with Lockheed as a local partner, is the C-27J which, as previously discussed at this blog, seems to be the front runner for the contract.

EADS just last week announced a strategic partnership with Raytheon for the FCA competition. . . .

EADS’s current offerings for the FCA competition are its CASA C-295 and CN-235 aircraft. The final offering will depend on the Army’s requirements. The C-295 is in service with the air forces of Spain, Poland and Jordan and will enter service with Brazil and Portugal.

The most notable thing about the Hill article quoted above, is that it is from today. This means that the precarious, yet sensible, FCA program isn't dead yet.

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