The Honorable Leon Panetta
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Panetta:
I am writing to reiterate my concerns regarding the Air Force's proposed elimination of the C-27J program and the recent announcement that, despite the successful work, the C-27J was being retired from the Afghan Theatre.
The Department of Defense (DoD) claims that operation and maintenance (O&M) costs for the C-27J are too high to maintain. DoD makes this claim based on its own numbers using assumptions that the program has been terminated. This accounting formula naturally, and falsely, raises the O&M costs of the existing fleet. In addition, the alleged cost savings come from contracting out to private companies the airlift work the C-27J previously performed. Nowhere has DoD shown that contracting costs are less than using the C-27J. Furthermore, the Department has not shown that private contractors are equal to the task of our men and women in uniform.
Eliminating C-27Js could also have unintended consequences regarding the safety and effectiveness of our deployed servicemembers, while simultaneously increasing the costs of transporting troops and delivering supplies to remote areas all around the globe.
The C-27J's comparatively low operating costs and critical supply and operating functions cannot be replicated by other older aircraft or private contractors. It costs almost five times more to operate a CH-47, per hour, than it does to operate the C-27J. Contract aircraft are inherently and substantially more costly than the C-27J. Given that the CH-47 and contract aircraft will now have to conduct current C-27J missions, the cost-effectiveness of this decision should be revisited.
Congress has been clear that DoD must show its math before making any decision regarding the C-27J. I ask that you work with me to identify responsible ways to meet the Air Force's mission requirements under these tough fiscal times without jeopardizing the C-27J program.