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US Army seeks information on small transports

The US Army has released a request for information (RFI) on potential replacements for its Beechcraft C-12 King Air and Fairchild C-26 Metroliner light transport aircraft.

The RFI requests specifics for an in-production, multi-engined aircraft for single-pilot operations. The platform should be capable of carrying up to nine passengers or 2,700lb (1,200kg) of cargo, and of operating from rough fields. The army further requests that the aircraft should cruise at no less than 275kt (500km/h).

Although no manufacturers have yet declared an interest, the specifications fit a number of aircraft, including modern versions of the C-12 used for surveillance by the US Air Force. The design is based on the Beechcraft King Air 350.

The C-12 and C-26 are among the few fixed-wing aircraft operated by the army, which uses the aircraft for light transportation duties. One or two examples of each are often attached to helicopter and headquarters units.


US Army

Beechcraft King Airs are flown by the US Army under the C-12 designation

The most recent army fixed-wing acquisition programme - for the larger Joint Cargo Aircraft - led to infighting with the US Air Force over control of airlift capabilities. The army's resulting batch of Alenia Aermacchi C-27Js was handed to the air force for operations, and the programme has since been cancelled.