Gov. Jack Dalrymple today joined other governors in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta urging him to keep the C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft in the 2012 Department of Defense budget. The governors are concerned that the aircraft program will be eliminated as the nation seeks to reduce defense spending.
The North Dakota Air National Guard's 119th Wing in Fargo is scheduled to receive four C-27J Spartans in 2013 as part of the unit's future mission. The "Happy Hooligans" are currently operating C-21 Lear Jets as interim aircraft after the Wing's F-16 Fighting Falcons were retired in 2007.
"We recognize that the Defense Department and the U.S. Air Force have difficult choices to make with regard to future budgeting," said Dalrymple. "However, we believe that elimination of the C-27J program would adversely impact key homeland security capabilities, as well as our nation's ability to maintain and create jobs."
The letter to Panetta states that the C-27J is more cost effective for taxpayers in supporting homeland defense and responding to natural disasters compared to currently available cargo aircraft in the Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force inventory such as the aging C-130 Hercules and much larger C-17 Globemaster. Its smaller dimensions and reduced airfield landing requirements will allow the National Guard to deliver personnel and emergency supplies to areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Dalrymple states in his letter that the C-27J aircraft is a valuable asset to our state and nation. "More C-27J aircraft translates to faster response to homeland security situations and natural disasters at a far more economical price than our larger airlifters, providing taxpayers with higher cost efficiencies," wrote Dalrymple.