03 February 2012

C-27J Cancelled?

The C-27J program was a fixed wing aircraft that could carry large transport helicopter sized loads for the Army over longer ranges at greater speeds with more fuel efficiency than a helicopter and could takeoff and land from field airstrips. It did everything a transport helicopter did better in situations where field airstrips were available at both ends, which they frequently are in cargo runs. It would also make it possible to better serve small forward operating bases on runs for which a C-130 had more capacity than needed, and a helicopter was too slow or had too little range, without running scarce C-130s mostly empty. It wasn't an expensive plane per unit and it didn't push the envelope of existing technology.

But, apparently the program has been canceled. I don't know how I managed to miss that and don't entirely trust the report until I see it confirmed.

The Air Force is well known for its distaste for letting other services have fixed wing aircraft that compete with its perceived jurisdiction, and it seized the program from the Army and promptly cut it in half back in May, 2009. A gunship version of the C-27J serving a similar role to the current aging but still useful AC-130 (a modified C-130 with a howitzer class gun and other armaments for close air support) has been pitched.

No comments: