The Air Force is no longer operating C-27J Spartan airlifters in Afghanistan and currently has no plans to return them to that theater, according to service officials. Earlier this week, officials at Kandahar AB, Afghanistan, inactivated the 702nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron that had operated two C-27Js from there since last August. These Air National Guard-run mini airlifters provided direct support to Army units in southern Afghanistan, earning high marks from the operators and the soldiers whom they supported. “We feel like we’ve made a difference for the young troops on the tip of the spear,” said Lt. Col. Michael Lunt, 702nd EAS commander at the time of the unit’s June 18 inactivation. Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Cassidy told the Daily Report June 21 that the Air Force leadership decided to pull the C-27Js at this time to avoid having to spend another $20 million to $25 million on L-3 contractor support for another year in Afghanistan. The Air Force’s Fiscal 2013 budget proposal included the service’s plan to divest the C-27J fleet to save funds for higher priorities. However, lawmakers have thus far put the kibosh on that move in their budget mark-ups for next fiscal year. Click here to continue to the full report.