C-27J Fleet Sized Right

Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, National Guard Bureau chief, thinks a fleet of 38 C-27J twin-engine transports will be enough to meet the Army’s needs for direct support at austere forward locations, when augmented by some C-130 airlifters. The Pentagon decided to procure only 38 C-27s, even though the standing requirement is for 78. But McKinley told defense reporters Tuesday in Washington, D.C., that “with 38 C-27s and however-many ‘130s we need, we can do the direct support mission.” The C-130, the comparatively larger airframe, has “significant capacity” for direct support when the proper techniques, processes, and procedures are used, he said. He added. “We’ve done tests recently in Iraq that show the ‘130 can deliver the last tactical mile.” Air Force officials told House lawmakers in April that the service is making available 40 C-130s for this role. (For more from McKinley, read Compromise Coming.)