The Coast Guard is pleased with the potential of 14 C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft entergin the service from the U.S. Air Force, USCG’s Atlantic area commander said during an address at the Surface Naval Association 2014 symposium in Crystal City, Va. on Thursday.
“This is a great airplane. If we had had the money… We would have bought these on our own,” Vice Adm. Robert Parker said,
The C-27J, a variant of the Italian Alenia Aeronautica’s G.222, will serve as a maritime information, surveillance and reconnaissance platform for the service, replacing some of the services aging C-130H.
In turn the Coast Guard will turn over seven C-130Hs to the Air Force for conversion into fire fighting aircraft for the U.S. Forest Service — laid out in the recently passed 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.
Transfer of the Spartans ends a long — and somewhat torturous — journey for the aircraft that started as a U.S. Army program. The Army wanted more than 30 of the two-engine planes to operate in austere airfields in Afghanistan in 2007. The Air Force took over the program, bought 21 and eventually transferred the aircraft to Air National Guard elements to preserve units that were losing other aircraft. Seven were transferred to U.S. Special Operations Command (SOC)
However, the Air Force decided to place the remaining 14 Spartans in storage as a budget saving tactic.
The planes are now expected be transferred to the Coast Guard service in the next six to 12 months.