The USAF may not be able to sell it’s bastard child C-27J Spartans on the open market as part of the recent round of DoD budget cuts. Why not you ask? Because Italian C-27J manufacturer Alenia has stated that it is very unhappy with the USAF’s quick abandonment of the program, which has only delivered about half of the 21 plane contract, and that they will NOT support the planes if they are sold to a second-hand buyer! Without OEM support of such a high-tech hauler the aircraft are essentially useless. Somewhat understandably, Alenia sees flooding of the world market with 21 basically second-hand but unused examples of their hallmark product would essentially put new purchasing of the aircraft into hibernation. This is especially true in reflection of the current global realities of shrinking defense budgets and the present emphasis on tactical and ISR related aircraft procurement over logistical oriented airframes.

Was the USAF actually stupid enough to disregard making a provision in the C-27J contract that would allow for the ability to sell the aircraft on the second-hand market if the USAF so choose? Or even worse, did they allow Alenia to put in an opposite provision stating that they could opt-out of supporting their product if the USAF no longer owned them? If this is true all I can say is WOW. For such a controversial, and frankly low priority program, that has always been on edge of cancellation, I would think that such a provision, or lack thereof, would have been the first thing on the DoD’s legal team’s list when negotiating such a deal.

If Alenia is looking for a massive penalty settlement from the US I say don’t give them a dime. Transfer the aircraft to the Army, if the Army cannot afford them then send them over to Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and turn half of them into multi-role gunships and the other half into tactical insertion and resupply platforms. Also, immediately fire the contract team that was responsible for allowing such an issue to be left unattended during contractual negotiations. I think the Pentagon could desperately use some small and medium sized business folks to come in and show the pencil pushers and lawyers how its done. Such a miscalculation in the real business world could mean that a business owner would lose their whole business, their home and their ability to put food on the table. Mismanagement on this level seems to be a rampant cancer in the DoD. Hey, I guess it’s not their money right? Well change that tomorrow by canning those responsible for such abysmal attention to detail regarding the C-27 contract. In other words, make it about their money. The sad thing is that if this program was given to the Army as it was originally intended I don’t think we would be talking about this issue right now. They would probably love their new transport and would be happy to get rid of their stone-age C-23 Sherpas. In other words, they would probably make room for the C-27J in their reduced budget as they would not want to give the capability up after gaining it in a hard and petty fight with the USAF.

If you think all this is too harsh than you can go back to enjoying watching your tax dollars be flushed down the toilet as fast a mechanically possible. These stupid errors in management and totally irrelevant and archaic turf wars amongst the services have got us nowhere but bankrupt as a military and as a nation, and it needs to end now.

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