Congress’ mandate that the Air Force keep 32 tactical airlifters in service that it aimed to retire in Fiscal 2013 effectively “equates to an intratheater airlift floor” of 358 airplanes through the fiscal year, said Col. Jon Thomas, program integration chief in Air Force headquarters. Lawmakers, in the Fiscal 2013 defense authorization act, directed the Air Force to retain those tails—either C-130s, C-27Js, or a mix—to ensure there’s enough direct airlift support of ground forces. With C-130s spread over all three Air Force components, the newly formed Intra-Theater Airlift Working Group has its work cut out for it, Thomas told reporters on Jan. 10. “They’re going through and very carefully looking at all the inventories and where all the airplanes are moving” due to past decisions and newly authorized retirements, he noted. Since Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told reporters on Jan. 11 that he does “not anticipate” the service revisiting its plan to retire all C-27Js, it appears that the 32 airlifters will all be C-130s. Thomas said the Air Force still has enough C-130s in service that it probably wouldn’t have to draw from its aircraft boneyard to maintain 358 airframes.
Sept. 27, 2022
As the Air Force moves forward with its efforts to operationalize the concept of agile combat employment, leaders need to embrace an iterative approach that builds on itself, recognizing that ACE may never be fully complete, said Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.