A bipartisan group of House members urged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to reconsider the Pentagon’s decision to reduce acquisition of the C-27J transport from 78 airframes to 38. “The C-27J is a highly capable, versatile, and cost-effective aircraft with lower acquisition and operating costs than rotary-wing aircraft and larger cargo airlifters,” wrote the 12 lawmakers in their Oct. 11 letter advocating more than 38 C-27Js “in light of the current budget environment.” The group is led by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.). They added, “We believe the C-27J is the most practical and affordable solution to our tactical airlift requirements.” The validated National Guard requirement for these aircraft to support homeland defense in addition to national security roles “has not changed,” they noted. Therefore, “the C-27J should be considered as an affordable, cost-effective option in future defense plans,” they stated. Already, the first C-27J operational unit, the Ohio Air National Guard’s 179th Airlift Wing, has deployed some of its aircraft to Afghanistan.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.