Senators support transfer of C-27Js to USFS

Posted on Categories Fixed wingTags

Six senators signed a June 29 letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressing their support for the transfer of up to seven C-27J aircraft from the Department of Defense to the U.S. Forest Service. Here is the text of their letter:


“Dear Secretary Hagel:

As you near the completion of a divestiture plan for the C-27J Spartan aircraft, we want to draw your attention to Section 1091 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, P.L. 112-239 (NDAA), which governs the transfer of excess military aircraft deemed useful by the U.S. Forest Service for suppressing wildfires.

We are deeply concerned that the Forest Service’s wildfire air tanker fleet is stretched alarmingly thin and urgently needs to be recapitalized. According to press reports, there were about 914 requests to deploy air tankers at various wildfires in 2012 but about half of those requests were denied as “unable to fill” because of fierce competition for a shortage of air assets. To help address this shortfall, the Forest Service has proposed acquiring the C-27J as a 21st century platform capable of multiple wildland-fire missions including smokejumper and cargo delivery, fire crew transport, and aerial application of fire retardant.

Section 1091 of the NDAA 2013 clearly gives the Forest Service the first right of refusal on up to seven of the twenty-one C-27J aircraft deemed excess to the needs of the Department of Defense (DoD). We understand that U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), a division of DoD, may request up to 8 of the C-27J aircraft, which is consistent with Section 1091. However, in a memorandum to you from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), dated June 10, 2013, Secretary Janet Napolitano expressed an interest in obtaining up to 14 of the C-27J aircraft on behalf of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) under a “direct military-to-military transfer.” We want to remind you that a transfer of 14 of the C-27J aircraft to USCG (which operates under the service of DHS, not the DoD (14 U.S.C. §3)) is inconsistent with the language of Section 1091. Congress specifically relegated USCG’s priority in obtaining excess C-27J second to the Forest Service. This interpretation of Section 1091 is shared by experts at the Congressional Research Service, an objective legal and policy analysis branch of the Library of Congress.

We would appreciate knowing what steps you are taking to prepare the C-27J for transfer and request to be immediately notified when a plan is near implementation. We would also appreciate a reply explaining your interpretation of Section 1091 in light of the request by Secretary Napolitano.


John McCain, Ron Wyden, Dianne Feinstein, Mark Udall, Mike Johanns, Bill Nelson”

Typos, let us know HERE. And, please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

6 thoughts on “Senators support transfer of C-27Js to USFS”

  1. Perhaps someone forgot that the USCG also operates under US Code Title 10
    and under Title 10 can accept military to military [within DoD] aircraft transfers …

    This might be one for the lawyers.

  2. Apparently the 6 senators did not read the the section they are referring to, for it specifically gives 7 to the USFS and 14 to the USCG. They are grandstanding for what? Here’s the text:

    (a) Transfer.–The Secretary of Defense may transfer excess aircraft
    specified in subsection (b) to the Secretary of Agriculture and the
    Secretary of Homeland Security for use by the Forest Service and the
    United States Coast Guard. The transfer of any excess aircraft under
    this subsection shall be without reimbursement.

  3. I like the other caveat…..SecDef MAY transfer…

    Until that littler tidbit happens….the C27J is still housed under the DoD and THEY can do what they please

    Even with Mr Kern’s $54K study….nothing is “garooooonteed” to the USFS as of yet

    Maybe there is just a few more hoops the USFS has to meet under the transfer

    We all here have not seen the fine print of Title 10 and Title 32 and USCG needs.

    Just because 7 were “destined” for the USFS….no action is / will take place til well after 30 Sept 2013…anyways.

    Haven’t held my breath on this deal…..and maybe there will be some restrictions on the receivership from the USAF

    Standing by to stand by…………….

  4. Some points in addition to my original post:

    The transfer of aircraft to departments outside the DoD is possible after direct DoD to DoD transfers. The USCG is unique in that it operates under Title 10 and under Title 14 of US Code. If there are no Title 10 DoD requirements for the aircraft, they are deemed “excess” and available for transfer outside the DoD. In this instance if the USCG can justify its requirement for C-27J’s under its Title 10 responsibility, it has first choice for any or all of the aircraft.

    If the USCG requirement is for aircraft under its Title 14 authority, then all the language of Section 1091 of the National Defense Authorization Act would apply and each Department is limited to 7 aircraft with the first right of refusal going to the Secretary of Agriculture.

    Thats why I think this may be one for the lawyers. Which “hat” is the USCG wearing?

Comments are closed.