Coast Guard wants to trade with the USFS, C-130s for C-27s


The fate of the 21 almost new C-27J Spartan aircraft that the Air Force wants to get rid of is still not clear. On October 28 Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made the decision to give seven of them to the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), but he has not determined the fate of the remaining 14 according to Pentagon spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. The U.S. Forest Service wants 7 of them for firefighting operations.

In the video above, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert J. Papp said they wanted all 21, but  “…we are going to press ahead and get as many of those [remaining 14] as we can.” The portion of the interview in which the C-27J is discussed begins at 4:25.

Adm. Papp also broke the news that the Coast Guard is negotiating with the U. S. Forest Service to give them some old C-130s if the Coast Guard can get all 14 C-27Js after SOCOM takes the first 7.

Of course this throws a large monkey wrench into the Forest Service plans. But, the C-27J would not qualify as a next-generation air tanker since it could only carry 1,850 gallons of retardant according to a study that cost the agency $54,000. They want large air tankers that can carry at least 3,000 gallons, however there is something to be said about a mix of aircraft with their individual niche capabilities. A C-27J might be better used as a smokejumper platform, to haul cargo to fires, and transport two or three 20-person fire crews.

The Admiral did not say what model of C-130s the Coast Guard wants to get rid of, although he did mention C-130Js at one point. Nor did he say WHY the Coast Guard wants to get rid of the old C-130s (and get almost brand new replacement aircraft!). If they are low-usage C-130Js in good shape with lots of life left in them, the USFS could create a government-owned, contractor-operated large air tanker program. But Coast Guard aircraft are used in a maritime environment, much like the old P2Vs which were converted to air tankers, which could accelerate aging issues.

The text below is a transcript of a portion of Adm. Papp’s statement in the interview:

We were interested in getting our hands on all 21 of them. Special Operations Command I believe is going to get 7 of them and some number of aircraft were promised or at least directed to the Forest Service for firefighting.

It’s difficult for me to talk about the details of the negotiations right now but we’re working with the Forest Service to make sure that that is the particular aircaft that would suit their needs. We have C-130s that we can convert and turn over to them that might be better for them but we have staff that are working right now. Ideally out of the remaining aircraft we would like to get 14, that allows us to fully outfit 3 air stations and anything less than that, we would have to go back and really reevaluate the project… We are going to press ahead and get as many of those as we can.

In July of 2012 Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation known as the Wildfire Suppression Aircraft Transfer Act of 2012 (S. 3441) ”to help replenish the agency’s aging airtanker fleet”. It would have required the transfer of 14 C-27Js to the Forest Service. The bill died, and since then the USFS has said they want 7 of the aircraft.

C-27Js at Mansfield, Ohio Feb. 13, 2013. US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Harwood
Air National Guard C-27Js at Mansfield, Ohio Feb. 13, 2013. US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Harwood.

The report the USFS commissioned concluded the C-27J could carry 1,850 gallons of retardant if 3,200 pounds of unneeded equipment were removed, including flight deck armor (approximately 1,100 lbs), miscellaneous mission equipment such as litter stanchions, tie-down chains, ladders etc. (approximately 1,000 lbs), and the cargo loading system (approximately 1,200 lbs).

Smokejumpers could exit the C-27J through the two side doors or the aft ramp. Depending on how the aircraft was configured, it could transport between 24 and 46 jumpers. According to the report, the aircraft configuration can be changed and fitted with standard outer and center seating to accommodate 68 passengers with limited personal equipment plus 2 loadmasters. The maximum allowable flying weight for a hotshot crew is 5,300 pounds.

The study said the aircraft could carry between 12,222 and 25,353 pounds of cargo.

 

Thanks go out to Dave

4 thoughts on “Coast Guard wants to trade with the USFS, C-130s for C-27s”

  1. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    Does the USFS want it’s own fleet of C130s for tankers? If they do, do they want to operate/maintain or are they looking for contractors to handle that side of things?

    I would have to agree with you, Bill. If the Coast Guard is offering up C130s in good shape, I think its a win-win.

  2. The plot thickens…
    Help these guys out?
    Could create a GOCO? Hope so for their sake, Bill

    Because it will.be. long upward push to get their little Air Force going….CalFire…can you?

    Does the USFS have corrosion control program that the civilians and military don’t have? Or will there a study on that?

  3. IF the USCG C130’s are indeed H models…..

    This would be the BEST gift the USCG and the US taxpayer could ever give the USFS and OUGHT to be treated as such.

    IF this trade goes through…..there ought to be heavy lawyer involvement so the 1980’s Airtanker debacle of Reagan and Fuchs never happens again.

    These aircraft have better maintenance ( probably better NDT testing also) and should not need some hocus pocus USFS maintenance requirements that assisted in the demise of Aero Union and H&P.

    IF the USFS accepts the H models for the trade of their portion of the C27J then there ought not be any more bitching about “Next Gen” contracts of civilian operators with the jet technology and the associated costs of those programs.

    This will be interesting how the USFS handles this trade and they could conceive ably turn this into a goat rope as before and start “lending it out to other Agencies.”

    MAYBE they will learn a hard lesson in both humility in aircraft ownership, maintenance and will be very quiet in the EGO department should they receive these aircraft!

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