While acknowledging problems with the aircraft’s introduction, a company official says the C-27A fleet is now exceeding the requirements laid down by the U.S. Air Force. The industry official says the company was sent notices warning it of contract deficiencies, but never received Air Force feedback from its responses. Furthermore, Alenia says the contract signed in March was undefinitized.
“Conservatively, we spent around $20 million of our own money sourcing new parts for these aircraft, that was spent in good faith to retain the contract,” the industry official said. The company sourced parts from G.222s stored in Argentina to keep the Afghan fleet going and brought in new contractors, including Dyncorp International for engineering and training and General Dynamics for translation services. Engineers were limited by hangar slots as they worked on the aircraft.
The company official says there are now between 10-12 aircraft available for missions, significantly more than the six required by the U.S. Air Force.
Around $600 million has now been spent on the program, and the industry official believes that spending another $60 million would ensure the type’s continued operation. This would cost less than introducing a new type such as the C-130, according to the industry official, who says such a move would require the retraining of personnel on a more complex system.
In a statement, an Alenia spokesman said the company was committed to the success of the G.222 program and the U.S. Air Force as it stands up a trained and capable Afghan Air Force. “Our team works tirelessly to support the program, meet our commitments and swiftly address any concern, big or small, even those connected to other parties,” the company said.
“We stand behind the G.222 airplane, arguably one of the safest, most durable cargo aircraft in history – well suited for the mission,” the company added. “The company is weighing its options and plans to meet with stakeholders to discuss the status of the program, as well as the investment and progress made to date.”
The NATO Training Mission and the Air Force will suspend C-27A flight operations in Afghanistan in the coming weeks, but no decision has been made on the final disposition of the aircraft and the associated support equipment and spare parts.