The C-27J will be announced the winner of the Joint Cargo Aircraft competition later this week. Put it in the bag.
Keep in mind that this is a blog and not a news story. I have no information that confirms the sentence above. If I did, you can trust that I'd save it for my employer: Flight International magazine.
This is purely informed speculation, akin to a sports analyst predicting who wins a game between two teams in which he or she has no personal stake. In other words, I'm guessing.
I also bear no grudges against the Raytheon/EADS CASA North America C295 team. Indeed, until a few days ago, I would have put my money on the pride of Spain's aerospace industry. Them's the breaks.
Some of you I'm sure will think I'm full of crap. But before you press the "send comment" button, please read why I'm predicting the C-27J has won. Here goes:
When the Senate Armed Services Committee marked up the Fiscal Year 2008 authorization bill a few weeks ago, it inserted language to make the US Air Force the purchasing authority for the Joint Cargo Aircraft program.
I interpret this move as the air force taking insurance. If the army selects the aircraft that the air force doesn't like, the latter can ensure the former doesn't get to buy it.
The air force participated -- but did not get the decisive vote -- in the source selection process. The process concluded in March, meaning the air force likely knows which aircraft won the competition. Following this logic, the SASC's mark is an indication that the air force disapproves of the selected aircraft.
The question then becomes: which aircraft does the air force oppose?
For various reasons, I think the air force is opposed to the C-27J as too near a competitor in performance and mission to the prize of its entrenched tactical airlifter community: the C-130J. The C295, while an effective, proven aircraft, is not as likely to be confused as a rival to the venerable Hercules family, and therefore the aircraft the air force could support.
I admit: This is a prediction based purely on speculation. It's more like a conversation over a beer or two than a professional observation. But, well, that's kind of the point of having a blog. I might be completely wrong, and I hope Raytheon and EADS CASA North America will continue to return my phone calls. But this is my best guess.