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FCA contest heats up

Competition for the US Army’s $1.3 billion Future Cargo Aircraft (FCA) programme could soon extend beyond the two currently known bidders for the controversial requirement for at least 33 medium airlifters.

Alenia/L-3 Communications joint venture Global Military Aircraft Systems (GMAS) is offering the C-27J and Raytheon/EADS Casa the C-295 and/or CN-235, but acquisition officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense say they have “identified several additional vendors in the competitive range”.

Boeing is understood to have shown interest in submitting a standalone proposal for FCA. Both the Xian MA-60 - a Chinese version of the Antonov An-24, and the An-24 itself are thought to be close to the army’s minimum requirements for FCA, but Boeing is known to be interested in seeking a role on the GMAS team, perhaps as a final assembly partner.

Lockheed Martin may also offer a stripped-down version of the short-fuselage C-130J. But this could have ramifications for its role as a major supplier for GMAS. “The C-130 is more aircraft than is required for the FCA and is likely not affordable. We have not discussed that [with Lockheed],” says GMAS vice-president for business development Alison Hartley.

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