Bogus Theory

The originally perceived need for a smaller sized airlifter to provide direct support to Army units in difficult environments such as Afghanistan didn’t materialize in practice. So states the Pentagon budget priorities document released Thursday outlining the programmatic cuts that will be reflected in the Defense Department’s forthcoming Fiscal 2013 budget proposal—including the decision to divest the Air National Guard’s new C-27J transport fleet. Pentagon planners “thought the C-130 might not be able to operate effectively” in those tough environments, reads the document. “However, in practice, we did not experience the anticipated airfield constraints for C-130 operations in Afghanistan and expect these constraints to be marginal in future scenarios.” Since the Air Force has an “ample inventory of C-130s and the current cost to own and operate them is lower, we no longer need—nor can we afford—a niche capability like the C-27J,” states the document. C-27Js deployed last summer for the first time to Afghanistan. The Air Guard already has more than 20 C-27s in its inventory. The Air Force planned to procure 38 in total.