C-27Js Leave Afghanistan Early?

The Air Force announced yesterday that it has withdrawn two C-27J cargo planes from Afghanistan and plan to replace them with C-130s to pick up the slack, presumably though the end of operations. This rings funny considering these two C-27Js, operated by the Maryland Air National Guard, were scheduled to remain in Afghanistan through 2014.




With the maintenance contract set to expire at the end of the summer, the Air Force claims maintaining the aircraft in theater would cost additional $20 million on top of the $25 million maintenance cost. We would like to ask, how much does it cost to fly over and maintain additional C-130s?
The legislative team here at NGAUS is a little confused. It looks to us as though the Air Force is doing exactly what top congressional members on the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) told them not to do a few months back.  In a letterto Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta back in March, SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) specifically said:
     “We request that you not take actions to implement decisions that would be difficult or impossible to reverse by anticipating congressional approval of what may turn out to be very contentious proposals before the committees have had an opportunity to produce bills reflecting their responses lo the fiscal year 2013 budget request.”
The Air Force Times reportsthat bringing the C-27s home early coincides with the Air Force’s preparations to cancel the program. But wait a minute; with legislative proposals in both the House and Senate on the table to halt these cuts, moves to terminate/plan for termination of the C-27J program seem to go explicitly against lawmaker’s calls for no irreversible actions. What a conundrum. 

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