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Switching JCA to USAF Would Hike Costs

Gen. Richard Cody, Army vice chief of staff, says turning the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program into a single acquisition and operation platform under the Air Force would mean significant cost increases.JCA.jpg

Cody spoke in response to questions from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Cody also sent Levin a copy of the Oct. 9 appeal to restore authorization for JCA funding to the Army aircraft procurement account.

"A switch to a single service will necessitate a significant and time-consuming update to all documentation and could possibly result in Nunn-McCurdy implications," Cody said in his mid-October letter.

When Pentagon program cost increases exceed a certain set amount, the services have to notify Congress they have breached so-called Nunn-McCurdy limits.

Levin had asked the Army to explain the need for a joint JCA program.

"Program documentation and activities to date have been based on an Army-led joint process. If this program were to revert to an Air Force only program, the validity of these documents and decisions will come into question," Cody wrote. "Additionally, there are three primary areas of near-term focus that will delay the program if a service switch is made. These three areas are: the acquisition program execution and documentation; the test program; and the training/fielding activity."

The Army is also currently providing 75 percent of the acquisition execution personnel, Cody pointed out. It will take "upwards of a year" for the Air Force to get the necessary staff in place to replace the Army force.

"The documentation is of particular importance with respect to the acquisition approach," Cody wrote. "This documentation ... defines the acquisition program baseline. This baseline is currently defined with the program being an Army-centric activity joint program." Cody also said the testing is now scheduled around Army processes, procedures and resources.

Cody said the key operational differences between Army and Air Force JCA fleets would not be in the airframe, but in how the aircraft would be used.

The Air Force would use the aircraft to supplement C-130s and other overall airlift needs. The Army is responsible for getting materials and service members to the last tactical mile -- where speed, not necessarily efficiency, is of the utmost importance. Many of the JCA missions would be executed with 24 hours notice or less, Cody said.

-- Aviation Week

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