Another Shoe Falls?

If a report in The Hill has it right, the Army’s effort to replace its elderly C-23 Sherpas with new C-27J Spartans has been upended by the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2010 budget decisions not announced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates on April 6. The Army and Air Force earlier had a short fight over ownership of the Joint Cargo Aircraft program and the “last tactical mile” mission, with OSD siding with the Army. Although the Army has led the joint program and was to get 54 of the initial buy of 78 aircraft, “multiple sources” told The Hill that OSD plans to end Army participation and reduce the buy to only 38 aircraft. If so, the Pentagon faces stiff resistance from elected officials and Adjutant Generals in whose states Army Guard and Air National Guard units were to fly the C-27J. Governors and AGs have pushed the program as critical to state disaster relief operations. Under this new scenario, the Air Guard could still receive Spartans, but the Air Force also expected the program to grow to 125 aircraft overall, giving it enough to outfit some active duty units. It also was entertaining the notion of a gunship light version. Meanwhile, will the Army have to give up its first two C-27Js—destined for the Georgia Army National Guard—and the other five it expected to receive out of the 2009 defense budget