ORLANDO — The Air Force’s move to ax its brand new fleet of C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft was an epecially hard choice given the promise the air service had made to the Army to use the aircraft to quickly resupply grunts in Afghanistan, the Air Force’s top officer said Thursday.
“The C-27 descision was a particularly difficult one for me, because Gen. George Casey, when he was chief of staff of the Army, and I agreed that we would migrate the C-27 to the Air Force and I assured him that I wouldn’t back out,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz during a speech at an Air Force Association-sponsored conference here. “But that was $487 billion dollars ago.”
Schwartz was referring to the $487 billion spending cut the Pentagon has been forced to make in its budget plans for the next decade. As you know, the C-27J started as an Army program aimed at providing on-demand tactical airlift or important supplies to troops at remote combat bases. The Air Force eventually took over the effort, promising to dedicate the C-27s to that very mission. However, the service just announced that it will retire its brand new fleet of JCAs in order to save cash.
Schwartz went on to reiterate the Air Force’s justification for the cut, saying the service’s C-130s along with Army choppers can effectivly execute the urgent tactical resupply mission in Afghanistan.
“In the interim, we have demonstrated, I think convincingly, that the C-130 can do virtually all of the direct, time-sensitive mission critical support that the Army needs,” said the four-star. “We are committed to doing that or we will die trying. So ourt recommendation, accepted by the leadership in the department was to eliminate the C-27 weapon system, given the pressures that we face and to depend instead on the remarkable capability of 318 C-130s and an abundance of airdrop capability and other means to provide time-sensitive, mission-critical support to our ground force teammates.”