New cargo planes on order for the U.S. Air Force are being delivered straight into storage in the Arizona desert because that branch of the military has no use for them, a Dayton Daily News investigation found.
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Little-used planes cost hundreds of millions
2007 – Production of the C-27J Spartan begins. The Air Force orders 21 aircraft costing roughly $567 million.
2011 – Air National Guardsmen from Mansfield fly the new C-27J to Afghanistan on its first deployment. The C-27J was exclusively used by National Guard units.
Feb. 2012 – Following the federal budget control act, the Pentagon releases a budget that began the process to cut more than $400 billion in defense spending over 10 years. This includes terminating the C-27J at a savings of $400 million.
March 2012 – Ohio’s congressional delegation, including Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican Sen. Rob Portman, convene with Air Force Secretary Michael Donley arguing to maintain the C-27J program, both for jobs in Ohio and national defense purposes.
July 2012 – The military’s C-27J fleet is temporarily grounded to investigate the cause of a flight control problem that hampered a training flight of one of the aircraft.
August 2012 – President Barack Obama, who supported divesting the C-27J fleet, makes a campaign stop at the Mansfield Air National Guard Base. Amid criticism, he makes a campaign promise to “find a mission” for the base.
August 2012 – A Dayton Daily News investigation notes that Alenia North America — part of the Italian firm Finmeccanica Inc. that, with prime contractor L-3 Communications, builds the C-27J Spartan — spends more than $1.5 million a year on lobbying. This is in addition to the multi-million dollar lobbying efforts of L-3 and Finmeccanica.
March 2013 – The Air Force releases a plan including divesting its fleet of 21 C-27J aircraft, some of which have not been delivered yet, by the end of 2013.
March 2013 – A spending bill is enacted that requires the Air Force to purchase more C-27Js.
March 2013 – The Mansfield base gets a new mission flying C-130s, increasing jobs. A statement lauding the move from Sen. Brown makes no mention of the C-27J.
May 2013 – The most recent batch of C-27Js is delivered to the Air Force.
May 2013 – The Air Force solicits for a company to build more C-27Js, citing the congressional directive.
July 2013 – The first C-27Js arrive at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, known as the boneyard, for storage.
Sept. 2013 – The C-27J mission officially ends in Mansfield, with all four aircraft having been delivered to the boneyard.
Sept. 2013 – Air Force purchasing officials at Wright-Patterson Air Force base tell the Dayton Daily News the purchase of additional C-27Js is suspended as lawmakers work to remove the requirement that they buy more planes from the budget, currently before the U.S. Senate.
Oct. 2013 – The planes sit in storage while Air Force works to find someone to take the C-27Js, including possibly the Coast Guard or forestry service, though no one has committed.