USA — C‑27 program cut explained, budget aligned with strategy

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force deputy chief of staff for strate­gic plans and pro­grams dis­cussed the rea­son­ing behind the C‑27J Spar­tan pro­gram cut from the fis­cal 2013 bud­get request dur­ing the Air Force Association’s month­ly break­fast sem­i­nar here March 27.

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Sylvia Saab) (U.S. Navy photo/Petty Offi­cer 2nd Class Vladimir V. Potapenko)

“It’s not because it isn’t a good air­craft, and it’s not because it was­n’t a good idea $487 bil­lion ago,” said Lt. Gen. Christo­pher Miller. “We are going to make more dis­ci­plined use of defense dollars.” 

From a finan­cial and pro­gram­mat­ic per­spec­tive, any­time an entire weapons sys­tem, its logis­tic sup­port and train­ing infra­struc­ture can be elim­i­nat­ed with­out harm­ing the capa­bil­i­ties of the force, the ben­e­fits are greater, Miller said. 

“The sav­ings that you reap from that kind of action is far greater than if you just retired a frac­tion­al num­ber of the fleet,” he said. 

Cou­pling the facts that the Air Force was under finan­cial pres­sure and the life-cycle costs of the C‑27 exceed­ed that of the C‑130 Her­cules because of how it was to be based, there was­n’t any oth­er real­is­tic option, espe­cial­ly giv­en that the Air Force can accom­plish its goals with the C‑130, accord­ing to Miller. “We remain com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing our Army teammates.” 

“(Cut­ting the C‑27 pro­gram) was a deci­sion we did not like to make, but that we had to make,” he said. “Its capac­i­ty, over and above the rest of the fleet, sim­ply was not need­ed under the demands of the new strat­e­gy. What that allowed us to do was keep some very impor­tant things on track.” 

He said the sav­ings allowed the Air Force to main­tain focus on sys­tems like the KC-46A Tanker and the F‑35 Light­ning II joint strike fight­er as well as oth­er, not-so-vis­i­ble sys­tems like glob­al posi­tion­ing satel­lites, space pro­grams, and intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance systems. 

“We want to make deci­sions in the near term that sup­port the strate­gic vision in the long term,” Miller said. “As we start to come out of Afghanistan, and have come out of Iraq, we are fac­ing a new resource era.” 

He said the Air Force is look­ing at a type of full-spec­trum rebal­anc­ing with­in the force. 

“We’re try­ing to bring all these things we’ve done for a long time into a sus­tain­able bal­ance for the future,” the gen­er­al said. “Space and cyber are clear­ly more pre­dom­i­nant in all aspects of mil­i­tary oper­a­tions than they used to be.” 

The Air Force is going to put even more empha­sis on mak­ing sure the active, Guard and Reserve com­po­nents are bal­anced appro­pri­ate­ly and mak­ing sure Air­men and assets are ful­ly ready all the time, he said. 

“Main­tain­ing a small­er force that is any­thing less than ready is a bad idea,” said Miller. 

U.S. Air Force 

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