The Senate Armed Services Committee is not convinced that buying 38 C-27J transports is enough to provide direct airlift support to deployed Army units and still meet any needs at home such as responding to disasters. “Absent other information, it would appear to the committee that the department merely assumes that it can muster the appropriate support for domestic missions from within those forces that are derived from warfighting requirements,” write committee members in the SASC report completed late last month that accompanies the draft version of the Senate’s defense authorization bill for Fiscal 2012. That’s a risky proposition, they contend. Accordingly, the Senators direct the Air Force Secretary to conduct a cost/benefit analysis of buying more C-27Js versus the current plan of procuring 38 and augmenting the direct support mission with some C-130s. The committee wants the results of the analysis no later than the submission of the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2013 budget request. Along similar lines, a bipartisan group of Senators last month called on the Air Force to consider revising the C-27J basing plan and possibly up the fleet size to 42 aircraft. (SASC report; caution, large-sized file.)
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.