Complying with a congressional mandate, the Air Force has reached out to industry to inquire about what it would take to supply a batch of C-27J transports if ordered in this fiscal year. While Congress granted the Air Force the authority to divest its C-27J fleet in Fiscal 2013, it also directed the service to proceed with the plan to procure the C-27s that it originally intended to buy in this fiscal year before it sought Congress’ approval to stop operating the C-27J fleet due to tightening budgets and higher priorities. Accordingly, the Air Force’s May 10 sources-sought notice states that the service is “conducting market research to identify potential sources that possess the expertise, capabilities, and experience to manufacture and deliver C-27J aircraft.” L-3 and Alenia supplied the original 21 C-17Js, which the Air National Guard has flown. However, since “the contract vehicle for C-27J procurement has expired,” the Air Force “must assess the best means to comply with this requirement, including the disposition of aircraft once procured,” said service officials in late March when they announced the details of the service’s Fiscal 2013 force structure changes.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.