SOCOM Still Waiting on C-27J

According to the boss of US Special Operations Command, Adm. Eric Olson, SOCOM still needs a gunship version of the C-27J. He told lawmakers last week that the special operations forces-world believes it’s “very important” to have an airplane that gives it “the capability to operate more remotely with a smaller footprint at a lower operating cost on less improved runways.” In effect, SOCOM wants Air Force Special Operations Command to field something smaller than the current AC-130 gunship. Olson told the Senate Armed Services emerging threats panel, that SOCOM’s analysis of alternatives “identified the C-27J as the preferred alternative to meet that requirement.” However, with the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s reduction of the C-27J program from 78 to 38 aircraft in the 2010, one of the plans put on hold by the Air Force was the so-called gunship light version. In fact, the Air Force told the Daily Report last month that “several platforms are under consideration.” There seem to be disconnects regarding the new C-27. One reason that the C-27 buy got cut is that Defense Secretary Robert Gates believes USAF’s C-130 fleet can handle much of the front-line supply needed by the Army, but that doesn’t solve SOCOM’s gunship light problem.