More study is necessary to identify how to exploit the cost and performance advantages of the C-27 small-sized transport, Gen. Arthur Lichte, commander of Air Mobility Command, told the House Armed Services Committee April 1 in written testimony. Here’s why: The USAF intratheater airlift fleet mix analysis, or UIAFMA, completed by RAND at the end of 2007 showed that procuring additional C-130Js actually is “the most cost-effective alternative” to meet the shortfall caused by the retirement of the C-130E model, according to Lichte. This applied when examining the types of missions covered in the Pentagon’s most recent mobility capability study. The UIAFMA also found that additional C-27s beyond the Air Force’s 24-aircraft program of record “are not as cost-effective” for those same scenarios, Lichte writes. In fact the UIAFMA found that the C-27 is “60 percent to 70 percent less cost-effective” than the C-130J in performing those missions. However, RAND did identify missions outside of the scope of the MCS where the C-27 is more cost-effective, the general noted. For example, the C-27 was “five percent to 15 percent more cost-effective” than the C-130J on Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom scheduled theater airlift routes and OEF point-to-point missions, he writes. Now the Air Force is interested in follow-on analysis of such alternative missions, he said. Among potential roles deemed promising for the C-27 are: recapitalization of operational support aircraft inventories, precision airdrop, delivery of special operations forces and other small units, more efficient movement of small payloads within a combat theater, and support of civil agencies after disasters and crises. The Air Force’s leadership has consistently stated its commitment to the C-27, which USAF is procuring jointly with the Army.
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.