16 September 2008

C-27 JCA Program in Trouble

A Congressional appropriations subcommittee is backing away from support of the C-27 Joint Cargo Aircraft program which the Air Force has always been lukewarm about, despite Army and National Guard insistence that there is a need for an intratheater fixed wing aircraft with a load capacity closer to a heavy lift helicopter than a C-130.

The subtext is this debtate in Congress, like the debate over the next generation air tanker award, is that Congress hates giving military aircraft contracts to firms with a strong foreign connection, like Airbus and the designer of the C-27.

Also, the Air Force fighter mafia, as always, hates the idea that it should have to spend scarce budget resources in a support role for the Army.

On the merits the C-27 is a solid program because it is faster, has a longer range, and is more fuel efficient and reliable than a comparable capacity helicopter. Yet, because the Army lacks fixed wing aircraft, it often uses helicopters in missions where the vertical takeoff and landing capacity of a helicopter isn't necessary because field airstrips are available.

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