The Little Airlifter that Could Have?

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Philip Breedlove told House lawmakers Thursday that the Air Force will “not back off of the requirement” to deliver goods to ground forces in austere locations. But he said it’s no longer clear whether the Air National Guard’s newest airlifter, the C-27J, or the C-130 will fill that role. “That is still pending and is part of this ongoing budget review,” said Breedlove in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness panel. He was referring to Fiscal 2013 budget deliberations occurring against the backdrop of looming large budget reductions. He added, “That will be worked out in the next few months.” Lawmakers have indicated that halting C-27 acquisition before the current 38-airframe program of record is completed is one option the Air Force is considering to fit a shrinking budget. Meanwhile, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli, lauded the mini airlifters at the same hearing, saying C-27s have helped to ease the burden on Army rotary wing aviators since the first C-27 deployment to Afghanistan in August. He said the C-27J also “provides a tremendous capability for homeland defense.” (See also Justify the C-27J Requirement.) (Breedlove’s prepared remarks)