U.S. Army Looks to Replace Aging Fixed-Wing Utility Aircraft Once More

A C-12 Huron. Photo by Capt. Loyal Auterson

The U.S. Army has a problem; three years ago it found that 77 percent of its C-12 and C-26 fixed-wing utility aircraft transport aircraft fleet was “beyond useful life.” A previous attempt to remedy the situation with a competition failed when only one competitor stepped forward – a team up between Sierra Nevada and Textron Aviation, and the Army decided not to go with the plan submitted.

However, there is still hope.

“We haven’t given up on it,” Brig. Gen. Thomas Todd, told a group of reporters at the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual summit April 26 according to defensenews.com.

The Army felt the aircraft proposed by the Sierra Nevada and Textron team did not quite meet all the requirements they needed. The aircraft needs to have improved passenger and payload capability and a generous refueling range. It needs to be highly versatile and flexible to meet the rigors of moving personnel/equipment around readily.

“Ultimately, we talked with industry following that last competition and what can we do better to work with [them] to make our requirements,” Todd said. “So we’ve addressed that, we feel confident they are certainly more interested now.”

The Army is hoping there will be more competition this time around.

Not to give up easily, Sierra Nevada and Textron announced at AAAA they would be teaming up again to enter the competition.

The Beechcraft King Air 350 “is still the basis for an offering,” Jack Bailey, Sierra Nevada’s senior director for proposal development, according to defensenews.com.

“Capitalizing on three years of collaboration and investment between Sierra Nevada Corporation and Textron Aviation, the team will provide a solution that exceeds whatever requirements are established by the government with release of the final solicitation, which we expect in May,” Bailey said. “The final requirements document will drive change to the previous submission.”

It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out.


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