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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 07:58 AM
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Backtalk: Self-service support
Self-service support
By John Brennan

The Army and Air Force recently selected the C-27J aircraft for assault airlift direct, fixed-wing airlift support in the forward battle area on short, rough airstrips.

Congress has approved and funded initial procurement. However, the Senate authorization language was changed to move these funds from the Army to the Air Force and make this an Air Force mission. Despite the efforts of 25 senators, this language remains.

The Army needs its own tactical airlifter or at least legislative guarantees that the Air Force will adequately support the Army in this role.

The Army transferred most fixed-wing aircraft to the Air Force after the 1948 Key West roles-and-missions agreement, including the C-47s that provided assault airlift. This move was logical, on the assumption that airlift would be more effective when centrally controlled. However, this assumed there would be something to centrally control.

The Air Force likes larger aircraft, which are more efficient. Unfortunately for assault airlift, efficiency on a ton-mile basis may not equate to tactical effectiveness. Many C-130 sorties are far from full, making these more costly per ton-mile.

Many missions cannot be met by the C-130 because of small airstrips, forcing the Army to use National Guard C-23s, C-26s, C-12s or small contract aircraft.

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