Use of the C-27J Fixed-Wing Aircraft for Conducting Army Mission Critical, Time Sensitive Missions in Counterinsurgency Operations

By Gourley, Scott R. | Army, January 2011 | Go to article overview

Use of the C-27J Fixed-Wing Aircraft for Conducting Army Mission Critical, Time Sensitive Missions in Counterinsurgency Operations


Gourley, Scott R., Army


Use of the C-27J Fixed-Wing Aircraft for Conducting Army Mission Critical, Time Sensitive Missions in Counterinsurgency Operations. Kenneth Horn, Elvira N. Loredo, Steven Cram, Lewis Jamison, Christopher McLaren, William Phillips and Jeffrey Sullivan. RAND Corporation. 36 pages; $20.

During the Association of the U.S. Army's Annual Meeting in October 2010, a panel composed of four senior Army Aviation leaders was asked about the continuing use of fixedwing contractor aircraft to support selected air logistics and movement missions in theater.

In his response to the inquiry, MG Jim Rogers, commanding general of U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, observed, "We are all working toward the C-27J ["Spartan"], of which the Air Force has now taken over management. The goal there is for them to then pick up those missions for us. They have actually provided two C130s in direct support of the U.S. [ground forces] in country to facilitate that work and try to work toward getting more of their aircraft in there. Eventually the C-27Js, when they come on board, will help fill that gap."

Elaborating on the use of contracted fixed-wing assets, BG Tony Crutchfield, commanding general, Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, drew on his past experience of commanding an aviation brigade in Afghanistan to add, "There is no other way to move the supplies and equipment that we need to move in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not a place with defined or mature infrastructure - roads, rail and so on. The terrain is some of the toughest I've ever flown over. The demand is high, and there are not enough [air assets]. We have to move things by air in that country - if there are not enough, you have to come up with alternatives to move. One of the alternatives is contracted air."

Against this background of activities, RAND Corporation researchers were conducting an Army-sponsored study to examine proposed Army use of the new C-27J to transport mission critical, time sensitive (MCTS) cargo and passengers to brigade combat teams and support forces conducting full spectrum operations. Noting a lack of quantitative definition for MCTS, the report focuses on "the delivery of supplies or personnel to a point of urgent need in a short time period, typically less than 24 hours and usually much less. Examples of MCTS cargo include such items as blood, repair parts for grounded aircraft, and ammunition."

In April 2009, after RAND researchers had completed the research phase of the report, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates decided to place the C27J Joint Cargo Aircraft program under the Air Force and reduce the number of aircraft planned for acquisition from 78 to 38. …

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