Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member, introduced legislation that would transfer 14 of the C-27J transports that the Air Force wants to divest to the US Forest Service for use as dedicated aerial firefighting assets. “The Forest Service needs to modernize its entire air tanker fleet,” said McCain in a statement on S. 3441, the Wildfire Suppression Aircraft Transfer Act of 2012. “We have an opportunity to take the C-27J, an aircraft the Pentagon no longer wants, and give it to the Forest Service to enhance aircraft safety and lower existing maintenance costs,” he added. Better that than to have discarded C-27Js “sit in an airplane boneyard,” he said. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) are bill co-sponsors. Already some local southern California lawmakers are expressing support for the McCain bill, reported the Southwest Riverside News Network on Aug. 7. McCain introduced the bill on July 25. The Air Force leadership proposed divesting the C-27J fleet in Fiscal 2013 as part of cost-cutting measures in its budget submission for next fiscal year. Thus far, however, congressional defense overseers have not supported this move. (S. 3441 full text)
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.