A new RAND Project Air Force report offers a revealing glimpse into the blue-suiter’s perspective on the Joint Cargo Aircraft program. This blog has long been skeptical that the USAF will actually buy the JCA, which, pending a protest decision, is the L-3 Communications/Alenia C-27J Spartan. Based on RAND’s report, that skepticism appears deserved. Here’s an excerpt:
The first aircraft, the C-27J, is an improved and up-powered version of the C-27A. The second contender for the JCA role is the CASA 295. Each of these aircraft is capable of operating from runways that are somewhat shorter, narrower and rougher than those normally employed by the much larger C-130. However, neither aircraft was designed to provide [short takeoff and landing for rough fields] capabilities like those emphasized in the assault airlifters of the 1950s and 1960s. Thus, building several squadrons of JCA’s could improve DOD”s ability to support dispersed counterinsurgency operations by increasing the number of ‘tails’ available to the presently overstressed theater airlift fleet at a relatively modest cost. However, acquiring such aircraft will leave the issue of developing assault airlift capabilities unresolved.”
Hmmm, wasn’t JCA’s whole point to deliver an aircraft with STOL-RF capability?