Magazine article National Defense

Surplus C-27J Spartans Could Mean Big Windfall for Coast Guard

Magazine article National Defense

Surplus C-27J Spartans Could Mean Big Windfall for Coast Guard

Article excerpt

* The Coast Guard is looking to benefit from the Air Force's retirement of the C-27J Spartan transport aircraft.

Twenty-one of the aircraft were set to be decommissioned at the end of the fiscal year. The National Defense Authorization Act carved out seven for the Forest Service for firefighting activities.

That leaves 14 potentially available for the Coast Guard, said Vice Adm. John Currier, the service's vice commandant, during a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing.

They would serve as search-and-rescue aircraft, along with the new HC-144A Ocean Sentry, built by EADS North America.

The original HC-144A program of record called for the acquisition of 36 aircraft. The current budget crunch and the availability of the surplus C-27Js has brought that plan into question.

"We would be forced to take a strategic pause in that acquisition in fiscal year '14, and subsequently we would have to reexamine the affordability of the [HC-144A] aircraft vis-a-vis the whole acquisition," said Currier.

Canceling the remainder of the HC-144A procurement has the potential to save anywhere between $500 million and $800 million for the Coast Guard, whose budget for this fiscal year was $1.1 billion less than the $2 billion recommended for its acquisition, construction and improvements account.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., supported the Coast Guard's pursuit of the C-27J as a cost-effective alternative. "Potential savings of three-quarters of a billion dollars is pretty significant," he said.

The C-27J was rapidly acquired during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to replace the Army's fleet of antiquated C-23 Sherpas, which were designed for short missions and smaller runways. The Army-Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft program selected the Italian-designed Alenia aircraft with the intention of procuring 100 of them. …

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