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Posted: 9/27/2004 10:11:56 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/28/2004 10:59:21 AM EDT by KA3B]
Roles-and-Mission Battle Brews Over C-XX

World News & Analysis
Aviation Week & Space Technology

David A. Fulghum and Robert Wall

Some planners say the U.S. Army needs its own airlift capability

Air War
The Army's desire to purchase twin-engine transports for on-demand delivery of small, high-priority loads is stalled due to low-key disagreements with some in the Air Force about who owns them, who controls them and how many the Army wants.

The roles-and-missions disagreement over the so-called C-XX program will go for adjudication to the Pentagon's Joint Requirements Oversight Committee (JROC) panel, chaired by the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, later this month.

The Alenia Aeronautica/Lockheed Martin C-27J is widely regarded as the front-runner in the C-XX competition.

The U.S. Transportation Command has opined that the twin-engine transport does not meet its requirements, but Army officials contend it is what they must have to work around scheduling conflicts that arise when Air Force transports are needed on short notice. Army personnel complain that when they tell the Air Force they want extra lift, the response is that they don't really need it. The C-XX is supposed to replace C-23 Sherpas.

"I don't think the Air Force is always there [for the Army] when they are needed," agrees a senior Air Force officer. An example he offered was a mission to deliver a helicopter engine to a remote site. Detailing a C-130 or C-17 for the job is not efficient use of airlift. However, that replacement engine could be crucial to repairing a special operations or search-and-rescue helicopter that is needed right away. "The Air Force is looking at efficient airlift because they have to optimize a limited airlift asset. The Army wants an engine for the helicopter today [so] they want a transport aircraft outside on the ramp."

In addition, the Army is burning up the engine, rotor and airframe life of its CH-47 heavy-lift helicopters by using them for such long-distance work because they don't have airlifters. The extra operational demand has convinced Army officials that they need the transports, probably 140-150 of them, for the active duty forces.

The Army is trying to run a competition for the aircraft which would pit Alenia Aeronautica/Lockheed Martin's C-27J against the EADS CASA division's C-295. But before that can happen, service officials require the approval of Transportation Command and JROC. The C-27J is about $3.4 million more expensive, but it offers armor, onboard oxygen generation and a missile defense system. The Army also wants a contractor support package so it doesn't have to detail soldiers and create new specialists to service the aircraft. So far, Congress has authorized the Air National Guard (ANG) to buy a single C-27J.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper appears to be an advocate of increasing airlift for the Army. "Land forces will operate in smaller, more widely dispersed maneuver units," he said last week. "We should consider how to construct an airlift fleet to better support this concept. We'll have to create corridors that are protected to resupply these folks. They won't be weighed down with trucks filled with artillery shells. We'll be providing them, and we may have to do it within hostile defenses."

AIR FORCE OFFICIALS say it's not a question of which service owns the aircraft, but rather who gets to schedule its use. Army officials say resistance to the purchase appeared after the number of aircraft involved rose from around 50--the number desired to replace the ANG's 43 C-23 Sherpas--to a high of 400-500 when the idea surfaced to give 8-10 aircraft to each state's ANG. The other services weren't concerned initially because during the RAH-66 Comanche cancellation the Army had fenced off enough money to buy 25 C-27Js.

Aerospace industry officials contend the Army is actually looking for the roughly 140 aircraft, in part to help them meet overseas logistics demands, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. The breakdown includes 88 for the ANG, 32 for the Army reserve, three for the Golden Knights parachute team and 17 trainers. Air Force and Navy officials apparently also protested because their acquisition budgets are already being raided for overseas operations and they believe the new transports would create yet another drain on funding.

The Army, for its part, wants practical airlift assets--aircraft that will carry at least one standard pallet--that it can control in the context of a rapidly deployable force.

Component suppliers for both competitors are watching the disagreement with some trepidation. The infighting already is causing the program schedule to slip, notes an industry official, with more than a year's delay likely. Moreover, industry representatives fear that if C-XX is delayed too long, the Army will have spent the bulk of its aviation-related modernization funding on other initiatives, such as new armed reconnaissance and light-utility helicopters as well. The service's funding will also be taxed next year when the Army and RAH-66 Comanche industry team settle contract termination costs.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 10:59:30 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 11:17:49 AM EDT
The Army should be in charge of it's aircraft needs-if they want C-27's and A-10's they should have them. Territorial resistance by the Air Force hampering the Army's war fighting capability.
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 3:33:17 AM EDT
The Army has it's own boats and ships for smaller transportation for the same reasons as it needs the smaller cargo aircraft. It doesn't change the way the Army does business with the AF, and how most airlift is handled, but the small "sky truck" would get used in the same way the Army uses lighters and other water craft for it's unique transportation requirements. The Army relies on MSC to lift it's main floatable stuff, and on AMC to lift it's main flyable stuff. But if the Army has a specific requirement for it's own small cargo transport, be it sea or air, then it should have it. Other than a C-27 being far more efficient and quick, there's no difference in the way the business gets done. The Army still has to pick-up that example engine from the USAF when they fly it into an airbase. If it makes the trip in a CH-47 or a C-27, the Army still has to transport it. The Army should have a more appropriate aircraft for the job. It's an off-the-shelf system with contract support, so it's not a big issue operations wise. You just pay for it and it's done.

The USAF is just getting worried about turf infringement. Except for very little CAS and a whole lot of cargo transport, they're all but out of the current war.

Link Posted: 9/29/2004 3:50:32 AM EDT
We ought to reduce the AF back to a corps of the Army. Without the need for a huge bomber command or missile command the AF has little enough to do. Re-structure them back into the Army.

Now I will wait for the attacks to begin . . .
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 4:01:23 AM EDT

Originally Posted By TimJ:
The Army should be in charge of it's aircraft needs-if they want C-27's and A-10's they should have them. Territorial resistance by the Air Force hampering the Army's war fighting capability.

How much better a vehicle would the Stryker be if instead of having to cut corners to make it fit into a C-130, the AF planned its support to meet the Army needs instead of the Army having to shortcut its new equipment to fit what the AF can offer to move it.

The C-27 will be an Army owned and flown aircraft, why the fuck should the AF have operational control over it?
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 6:00:15 AM EDT
The AF hates small planes C 27 / C 23 that aren't cool and the next thing in line it hates is Army fixed wing aviation...

Since Army FWA fly's Sherpa Death Boxes already buying similiar size replacements like G 222 / C 27 or Casa's shouldn't be that big of deal...
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 7:46:14 AM EDT
I thought there was a law from the 50's that dictated that the AF couldn't own helicopters and the ARMY couldn't own fixed-wing aircraft.
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 8:07:47 AM EDT
That's BS.

The Army operates fixed wing aircraft and the AF operates helos.

Originally Posted By Carbine_Man:
I thought there was a law from the 50's that dictated that the AF couldn't own helicopters and the ARMY couldn't own fixed-wing aircraft.

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