A dozen barely used C-27J Spartans have been mothballed at the “boneyard” of American aircraft, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tuscon, Arizona. The federal government is now trying to find a use for the planes that no one in the Air Force wanted, and taxpayers shouldn’t have been asked to pay for. Cronyism and pork barreling are to blame for the planes’ existence, and you paid for it. Military.com explains how politicians from Ohio kept the unneeded C-27J program alive.
Ohio’s Senate delegation was among the most ardent defenders of the C-27J when a mission at Mansfield Air National Guard Base, and 800 jobs there, were dependent on it.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and six other Democratic senators wrote a letter in 2011 urging the military to purchase up to 42 of the aircraft, saying too few planes “will weaken our national and homeland defense.”
Then came sequestration, and a nearly trillion dollar cut to the Pentagon’s projected spending over the next nine years. That will bring the military’s budget down to roughly 2006-2007 levels, Rosenkranz said.
Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz testified before Congress last year that the military wanted to divest its C-27J fleet to come in line with budget cuts. He said the C-130 can do everything currently asked for and costs $213 million to fly over its 25-year lifespan. The C-27J, on the other hand, would cost $308 million per aircraft.
“In this fiscal environment it certainly caught our attention,” Schwartz said.
That put the Mansfield base in peril, and Brown along with Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who in February 2012 called the aircraft “critically important,” worked to save the C-27J.
But President Barack Obama, after making a campaign stop in Mansfield last year, promised to “find a mission” for the base. This led to eight C-130s being transferred to the base, giving it about 40 more full-time and 200 more part-time military positions. That also left it with the same mission it had prior to a cost-saving round of base closures in 2005.
Now the U.S. Senate is poised to strip the requirement that the Pentagon spend money on new planes from the 2014 defense budget, and Wright-Patterson officials are saying they were told to put a hold on purchasing. Ohio’s senators are not opposing the change of plans.
“Sen. Brown is encouraged that the Air Force is looking for new opportunities to redeploy existing C-27J aircraft for use in the Forest Service and Coast Guard, and if requested by the appropriate agencies would support continued C-27J construction for homeland security needs,” Brown spokesman Ben Famous told the Daily News.