USA — New fixed-wing aircraft to replace C-12

WASHINGTON — The Army is look­ing to replace its fleet of 117 C-12 air­craft with some­thing called a “Future Fixed Wing Util­i­ty Air­craft.”

A U.S. Army C-12 Huron pre­pares to land at an air base in South­west Asia.
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The C-12 Huron is used by the Army for per­son­nel trans­port, intel­li­gence gath­er­ing and recon­nais­sance, as well as car­ry­ing car­go.

“The biggest pro­gram that we have got com­ing up, and of course this is going to replace all the Army C-12s, we’re look­ing at putting a pro­gram togeth­er called the Future Fixed Wing Util­i­ty Air­craft,” said Col. Bri­an Tachias, the Army’s project man­ag­er for fixed-wing air­craft.

He said a require­ments doc­u­ment for that pro­gram is now “work­ing in the Pen­ta­gon.” When that is approved, he said, it will allow the Army to begin an analy­sis of alter­na­tives, and even­tu­al­ly define the require­ments for the pro­gram in a capa­bil­i­ties devel­op­ment doc­u­ment. If approved, that will allow the Army “to go out and pro­cure the next fixed-wing util­i­ty air­craft.”

Tachias spoke last week in Nashville, Tenn., at the Army Avi­a­tion Asso­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­ca con­fer­ence there. He heads up the Army’s lat­est project office, focused entire­ly on fixed-wing air­craft. The Project Office for Fixed-Wing Air­craft stood up in Octo­ber 2011, and has a “lead­er­ship role over all of the Army fixed-wing air­craft,” Tachias said.

Before the offi­cial stand-up date last year, the office man­aged about 256 Army air­craft. Today, the office man­ages about 366 fixed-wing air­craft. The con­sol­i­da­tion of those air­craft under the over­sight of one project office came after a push by the Army’s vice chief of staff to cen­tral­ly man­age fixed-wing air­craft in one office because there are “a lot of effi­cien­cies to be gained by con­sol­i­dat­ing them under one lead­er­ship role,” Tachias said.

Tachias said there’s been an esti­mat­ed 10–15 per­cent cost sav­ings by hav­ing the Army’s entire fleet of fixed-wing air­craft man­aged by the office. He also said that man­ag­ing them in one pro­gram means increased safe­ty. The Army, he said, is “man­ag­ing these pro­grams under one Army stan­dard to make sure we are pro­vid­ing safe air­craft for the pilots to fly, and of course con­sol­i­dat­ing the con­fig­u­ra­tion man­age­ment under one sys­tem, that way we don’t have all these dif­fer­ent con­fig­u­ra­tions of all these dif­fer­ent air­craft.”

The colonel said that since Octo­ber, the office has con­duct­ed 111 air­wor­thi­ness releas­es on the air­craft it man­ages.

Among the air­craft the office man­ages are those used by the Army Corps of Engi­neers, the Gold­en Knights, and the Unit­ed States Mil­i­tary Acad­e­my at West Point, N.Y. The office also han­dles spe­cial oper­a­tions fixed-wing air­craft and air­craft that do intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance, and recon­nais­sance work.

In the near term, the project office is also buy­ing air­craft for the Army Test and Eval­u­a­tion Com­mand, which has four air­craft that need replace­ment. The office has also pro­cured new air­craft for the Gold­en Knights.

Recent­ly, Tachias said, the office has stood up a for­eign mil­i­tary sales cell and is work­ing cas­es with the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates, Colum­bia, Egypt and Greece.

U.S. Army