Five brand new military cargo airplanes slated for delivery to the U.S. armed services early next year will go directly to an Arizona “boneyard” set aside for equipment no longer in use, according to Military.com.
The report, citing the Dayton Daily News, said about a dozen of the new C-27J Spartan equipment haulers already have been taken out of service and sent to Tucson, where the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base stores unused equipment and airplanes.
The airplanes appear to be one of the casualties of decisions by government managers regarding the federal budget.
The DoD Buzz, which calls itself an online defense and acquisition journal, reported just months ago that the Air Force had announced it was discarding 21 C-27Js.
The blog said the original plan was to buy a fleet of 38 of the haulers as part of a “Joint Cargo Aircraft Program” at an estimated cost of $1.6 billion. Reports said 16 had been delivered already, and another five are in line to be released for use early next year.
The report at the time of the U.S. budget sequester, which cut funds for the military, said that the C-27J cost around $9,000 an hour to operate while the larger C-130, which doesn’t have the C-27J’s capability of landing on some airfields, cost about $10,400 per hour.
The newest Military.com report Monday said the new C-27Js already produced are now being shipped to storage, and any new ones that were contracted and scheduled for delivery will follow the same route.
Ethan Rosenkranz of the Project on Government Overnight told Military.com that the military wanted the airplanes because they could land on less-developed runways, but when budgets were reduced, military officials decided the program wasn’t a priority.
“When they start discarding these programs, it’s wasteful,” he said in the report.
The five new planes still to be delivered were so close to completion that it would have been counterproductive to cancel the plans. The 209th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group will try to keep the airplanes operational so that another use – or another user – may be found, the Military.com report said.
Thousands of airplanes already are at the Arizona site, which features a hard-soil runway and low rainfall and humidity.
The airplane is made by Alenia North America, a subdivision of Italy’s Finmeccanici Inc.
Members of the Ohio congressional delegation have been fighting for the airplane, because the Ohio Air National Guard was one of several units designated to fly the C-27J. The National Guard disputed other cost estimates, saying it costs $2,100 per hour for the C-27J and about $7,000 for the C-130.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in the Military.com report that he was looking for ways and opportunities to “redeploy” the airplanes, possibly by letting the Forest Service or the Coast Guard use them.