Whither Air Force JCA?

The House Appropriations Committee is slated to mark-up the Fiscal 2009 defense spending bill today and one of the items to watch is the fate of funding for the Air Force’s portion of the Joint Cargo Aircraft program. The Hill reported Sept. 5 that some appropriators see no justification for the Air Force’s use of the twin-engined C-27J and therefore plan to stop USAF from procuring any units starting next year. We were told that there are defense appropriators on the Senate side who share these views, especially given their belief that the C-130J could accomplish the missions eyed for the C-27J just as well. The real fight to save the Air Force’s participation in the JCA program may well come down to Air National Guard supporters on Capitol Hill in whose districts are bases anticipating the arrival of the C-27J to replace flying missions that they lost as part of BRAC 2005. The Air Force requested $32.2 million in Fiscal 2009 for the JCA program. This amount includes $5.4 million for advance procurement of parts for the three C-27Js that the service would purchase in Fiscal 2010 based on its current plans.