The HC/MC Fleet Not a Done Deal

The Air Force is still mulling over options that would take it from the 14 HC/MC-130Js being purchased over the next few fiscal years to the required 115 tails, and, according to a senior acquisition official, the service is not necessarily tied to the C-130J. The Air Force must go back to OSD prior to a Milestone C decision in September 2009 with a new acquisition strategy that is still under development. The program office is conducting a cost analysis right now to determine options for replenishing the HC/MC fleet, Maj. Gen. David Gray, USAF’s director of global reach programs, told Pentagon reporters Aug. 26. Just because the Air Force is buying C-130Js right now does not necessarily predispose the service to that option to complete the fleet, he said, adding that an option to look outside of a sole source is in the mix. “Those 14 were done because there was an urgent and compelling need to support the warfighter,” Gray said. The Air Force is looking at what the costs would be for the program after the initial 14 airframes, whether or not there is a viable competitor and if it should just round out the fleet with J models. Gray did not rule out a mix of aircraft as a possible acquisition strategy.