Army seeks commonality in fixed wing fleet

Army seeks commonality in fixed wing fleet

The Army’s push to buy a new fixed wing utility aircraft continues as the service acquisition leaders finish up the requirements process and get ready to start an analysis of alternatives study to replace up to 112 airframes with a common platform.

The Army has used a motley crew of mostly C-12 Huron turbo-props to make up its relatively small fleet of fixed-wing aircraft that have supported transport and intelligence collecting missions over Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army leaders have bought many of the turbo-props over the past decade without common platform standards as the service has rushed to install intelligence sensors to get the low tech planes in the air and collecting intelligence for ground commanders.


Unmanned aerial vehicles have gotten most of the credit for the spike in aviation intelligence over the past ten years, but fixed-wing prop planes have also played a major role. The Army and Air Force have both ramped up their turbo prop fleets to fly intelligence missions where a pilot and intelligence team was needed in the air.

Army aviation leaders are finishing the Future Fixed Wing Utility Aircraft’s initial capabilities document to define what that plane should look like and what performance metrics it must meet, officials said.

Of the 377 aircraft that make up the Army’s fixed wing fleet, the service has 73 different series of aircraft and 40 different designs. To help manage this wide array, the Army stood up Program Executive Office Aviation.

Col. Brian Tachias took over as the program officer. He said the service needs a common utility fixed wing aircraft to take the onus off pilots and maintainers.

“A common cockpit and platform will reduce the amount of resources needed to train pilots and sustain the aircraft,” Tachias said. “Moving to one common fleet will reduce the manpower needed and allow us to gain efficiencies by reducing the number of contracts.”

The capabilities document is already in Pentagon staffing. The next step is the analysis of alternatives study. Army aviation and intelligence leaders will work together on both.

Army leaders don’t expect to require a significant development program for the Future Fixed Wing Utility Aircraft and instead use much of the data they’ve collected from the turbo props they’ve flown this past decade.

Questions, however, loom over how this program will differ than the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems, which is one the Army is using to buy King 350 planes outfitted with intelligence sensors. The first four will soon start the aircraft’s first forward operational assessment when they deploy to Afghanistan.

Analysts have questioned how the Army will sell the differences in the two programs to Congress in order to get it funded.

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I think if the US Army wanted a common Aircraft, they could have gone with a smaller EADS CASA C-295 or CN-235. It’s much smaller than a herke and can do as much as herke on a smaller scale. The would essentially have a baby C-130 with wide range of uses

I think they are looking for something much smaller than that.

Do it “v e r y” quietly Army. Remember the C27?

I dont see it happening the army keeps going on as business and buying as usual but cuts coming the fact is the army has no money!.

It’s not a Herc, it’s a King Air and they’re being flown by contract civilian pilots in the Stan. They can deal with the various differences much better than the uniformed Army pilots. As far as logistics support goes there’s not a hill of beans difference between a King Air built in 1999 and 2010. I’m not sure, but I’d bet that the maintenance is being done by civilian contractors also. I’m betting that the Army is getting a cheaper deal with the current situation than what they will have after they mil spec the program.

“Army leaders have bought many of the turbo-props over the past decade without common platform standards”

If what they had bought had conformed to a common platform standard, they would have had to fight off the USAF cynically attempting to first absorb and then discard it.

majr0d is entirely correct that the Army should tread quite carefully around that issue.

Isn’t it long since time we tore up the silly Key West Agreement and allowed the services other than the Air Force greater latitude in deciding which organic aviation assets fit their needs?

They are trying again with a less ambitious program only to not invade the USAF sacre territory.
C-235/295 shoul be out of competion too close to the JCA.

torquewrench — I think the USAF’s ability to centrally control aircraft for use to help the Joint force achieve its missions (North Africa for one example) is exactly what the Key West guys had in mind.

What has the Air Force not provided that requires Service-centric organic solutions that increase costs? Lance has the right vision for the Army, figure out legitimate requirements for support from the Air, make responsible choices related to what HAS to be organic and what CAN be on-call (as well has what has to be fixed wing/manned) and actually be smart instead of business as usual. I’d be hard pressed as a soldier to watch the Army shrink while something important like common fixed-wing platform is pushed…does my Service has its priorities right during a budget cut?

As a taxpayer, I’m happy to let the Army acquire C-27/C235/295 type aircraft to support themselves organically as long as they learn not to fly them empty just for the sake of flying. Although seeing our Nation’s fiscal situation, I’d rather have an Air Force that is capable of supporting multiple Army units in a cost effective manner than “organic aviation assets that fit service needs”.

Oh…the replies to this will be good…

They are using : C-145A (An28) / C-146A ( Do-38Jet ) / PC-12 / Ce404 / Casa 212 / CN-235 / Be C90 / Be 200 / Be 350 / DHC –8 as ISTAR / Spook Taxi‘s platforms and thats what i can think of off the top of my head

The major differences are in the Avionics packages. The airframe may have some minor changes over time, but remember these aircraft were purchased from private owners and they modify their avionics to suit their tastes and budgets.

That’s good info Ken. Don’t know how credible it is but it’s interesting.

Airguy — can’t respond to your post so here it is…

“the USAF’s ability to centrally control aircraft for use to help the Joint force achieve its missions (North Africa for one example) is exactly what the Key West guys had in mind.” You might think it but that’s not what the agreement says.

“What has the Air Force not provided that requires Service-centric organic solutions that increase costs?” The Army uses CH47s (which cost over five times the flight hours of a C27, C130’s is even a bigger difference) to conduct high priority unscheduled logistics runs. The problem the USAF can’t understand is that some logistic requirements can’t be predicted or exceed supplies on the ground requiring logistics support.

There ya go.…

that’s part II, site is having trouble

The so-called “King 350″ is the same basic aircraft and airframe as the C-12 Huron described a “Motley Crew.” Namely, they are all derived from the same Beech King Air airframe.

what in the world does the Army really need this for????

part II won’t post airguy. If you go to the search box and type in Spartan you’ll see a bunch of stories about the C27 full of facts, figures, statements and discussion that demonstrate why the Army should have an organic intratheatre fixed wing logistical asset.

Been trying for two days to post but the site isn’t letting me. If there’s interest we can peel the onion back again but there’s tons of data there.

Department of State uses them now. I think they’ve got about 20. I have one sitting in a hangar here at work with a big fat DOSAW on the tail and the DoS logo on the body. It’s pretty much a smaller C130, only it costs nearly $30,000 an hour.

There are many ways to determine flight hour cost. How did you come up with $30k/hr? I’ve seen hourly costs at $2100 and $9000 an hour for the C27J here on DoDBuzz.

$2100 by Sen Portman at hearings: http://​www​.dodbuzz​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​0​3​/​0​9​/​c​s​a​-​p​r​a​i​s​e​s​-​doo
$9000 by Gen Scwartz: http://​www​.dodbuzz​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​0​3​/​2​0​/​t​h​e​-​c​-​2​7​-​t​r​uth–

Some guy who spent his career in/around them told me about it when it came in. Said it amounts to about $30,000hr to fly and that’s part of why the USAF gave them up to DOSAW.

Something to do with the fact that getting parts for them was difficult, too. Apparently there wasn’t a hardcore religious line of parts on tap like you’d expect with the C130. Said something about having to order parts from Italy and they’d have to be made from scratch, since ther were so few C27’s. Took a month or two just to get parts for the plane Stateside. Another couple weeks to get the plane airworthy again.

Those DoDBuzz prices might be hourly for fuel or maintenance. There’s no way it’s that cheap to fly. Maybe if it was brand spanking new right out of the box and pampered to kingdom-come you could get it to run at those prices.

No problem. You’ll find other aircraft are comparable if you measure things the same way.

BTW, that “guy” must have had a short “career”. The USAF flew the C27J flew for about five years. He must have been ideally timed to be designated a C27J mechanic and get that much visibility on the C27J.

majr0d, just a question. The Army needs its own intratheatre logistics platform, but commanders have needed the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System for years. A logistics platform(C-27) and Battlefield control system(Saab 2000 or Embraer R-99 based) would work fine. Currently most of the 12 different platforms used are contracted for Ops and maintenance. Dropping that to 2 platforms would solve alot of footprint and funding problems, except the problem of the USAF not wanting anyone having nice toys too.

It’s a nobrainer to me. We already own the C27Js. Can’t express how shameful the partisan c0ckblocking is on this.

Interservice rivalry within the USAF and Army fixed winged aircraft has been going on for decades.
When is the Pentagon going to grow up and allow the both services to develop the same aircraft for the same mission requirements without squabbling about who’s got the upper hand ?
The Air Force would not allow rocket pods on the Army’s OV-10 in VN for that very reason, which was just ludicrous. The Army’s O-1 “Bird Dog” was allowed those 12.75″ rocket pods back then. Same mission, but the Air Force had to play their silly games in a combat zone.

Aye, I imagine they will be. And here is a good one for you. I am a proud Cav Dog, armor all the way. But, the world has changed since I was in, and it is still changing. I see a lot of people still worrying about “the next Great War”. We are already in the middle of that war, and we’re not fighting the way we used to. We are fighting terrorists and guerrilla forces We are fighting people who won’t think twice about sacrificing themselves in the name of their leaders…both political and religious. To that end, our military needs to evolve and adapt to the current situation. Ergo, it is well past time for all of the branches of our military to start working more closely together, share technology and training plans and the like. Now, I am not saying that Infantry needs to be retrained into fighter pilots or that Coast Guard captains need to become grunts…but we do need to see all the branches start working more closely together to plan their futures, develop new technology and so on. In the end, this would be one way to cut costs while still making our military forces the best in the world…the way we used to be,

Agree with you Steve — C-12 and mission has nothing in common with C-130. The CASA CN-235 is a Spanish manufacture and as such is a major pain to support as the USCG has learned — NO economies of scale.

Their primary purpose of the Air Force should be as a subordinate command to the Army. The Army is designed for fighting large scale wars and needs the heavy lift and strategic bombing capabilities of the Air Force. The Marine Corps suited for low intensity conflicts and is the ideal service to take on all special operations roles. The Marine Corps is a light force that can be deployed fast and is self-sufficient in as much as they have their own air power. In addition, they have the necessary equipment for amphibious operations. Before you say that the Marine Corps will never participate or fight in another amphibious operation again, let me remind you of two of their mission requirements: 1. Provide Fleet Marine Force with combined arms and supporting air components for service with the United States Fleet in the “seizure or defense of advanced naval bases” and for the conduct of such land operations as may be essential to the execution of naval campaign. 2. Provide detachments and organizations for service on armed vessels of the Navy and security detachments for the protection of naval property at naval Stations and bases.

The Air Force is primarily a supporting service. 40% cargo transport. 45% fighter (manned and unmanned) and 15% strategic. Now to answer your question, because it’s been one that’s bothered me for a long time…when it comes to close air support of infantry units…the Air Force just plain sucks. CAS should be organic to the services fighting on the ground. The Air Force has no idea of the amount of cohesion that exists in Marine Corps units because of this very fact. We trust our Marine Corps Aviators to provide transport into hot zones, supply us with the 4 B’s, provide CAS, and finally get us home. We do not trust the Air Force to do this for us and if I were Army combatant commanders, I would not trust the Air Force to do it for Army ground combat units.

I believe that theArmy should have some of its own support Aircraft. I remember Viet Nam (RVN). The Army had a fleet of small DeHavalin ‘BushType’ STOL Aircraft, lots of them. The aviation group needed those aircraft to to get Army Personnel and Supplies into their bases all over RVN. The Army had small and medium sized bases everywhere, and very few airstrips. No helicopters at that time. There was no USAF support for small unit operations and resupply. Just the big stuff at Tan son Nhut, Da Nang, Na Thrang and Qui Nhon. The Army did all in country resupply with STOL Beavers, Otters, Carabou and a few Rejuvinated C121’s (the old 2 engine version of a Herc)
The AF complained to congress, that the Army was doing the USAF’s job, which the AF was not even doing, as it didn’t have the aircraft, the airfields or the personnel.
The AF cried to congress, got the Army aviation aircraft fleet reassigned to the AF, got a big appropriation for maintenance and manning of the 12, 000 or so small aircraft then assigned to the Army, and a few months later, stood down every one of those aircraft. The army got to keep its Bird Dog Artillery spotters. The support missions now were supported by C130’s, not one of which was stationed in RVN, so all mission orders had to be routed to USAF Hqs outside of RVN. All C 130 aircraft now supporting the Army in RVN, originated and terminated in Japan, Phillipines and Thailand and CONUS, and was manned by USAF Guard and Reserve organisations, as the USAF did not seem to have enough active duty Aircraft to do the job they assured congress that they could do. What a boon doggle. Now all support comes fro USAF and NAVY Transport. Close Air ground support comes form USAF and NAVY fighters, except for our Helicopters. I believe that was a major setback in the RVN conflict and I’ve got to wonder about the inter-service support in Iraq and Afganistan

Joeybill.…. There was a C-130 unit assigned to my base TuyHoa RVN 1966–67. There were USAF C130 and C123 flying in and out of Qui Nhon 1968–69 the whole time I was there I maintained the equipment that 7APS used to upload and download cargo on these birds. I have no idea what a C121 is. There was a C130 unit that parked in front of my shop out on the flight line area of Tan son Nhut in 1970–71 again I was maintaining APS cargo handling equipment. Every time I flew in country it was on an AF C123,C130 0r C47, never had a chance to fly on the AC119 (Flying Boxcar). Never had an chance to fly on the Caribou operated by Army,Australians and ROK’s. I beleive those were C130 that were flying resupply missions in&out of Khe Sahn. I know what we in the Air Force did in Nam because I was there and participated in it during all three of my tours. Is there duplication, of course , should it be eliminated , yes by all means . I would rather we be identified as the U>S> Armed Forces and get rid of all the petty rivalries. Equipment designed for the same purpose should be the same regardless of which service uses it. I don’t see a need for duplicated forces and service.

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