Twenty-one military cargo planes on which the Pentagon spent $1 billion and sent to a desert boneyard have been designated for new missions with the Army Special Operations Command and the Coast Guard, military officials say.
The Coast Guard has targeted early 2016 to start flying the former Air Force C-27J Spartan on long range search and rescue missions, and the Special Operations Command will use the planes for military parachutists training, military officials said.
The Defense Department paid $567 million for the actual production of the aircraft, but when research and development costs were factored in, the price tag rose to $1 billion, figures show.
As part of the transfer arrangement with the Coast Guard outlined by Congress, the Coast Guard will provide seven aging C-130H planes to the Air Force, which will pay up to $130 million to refurbish the planes for firefighting service with the U.S. Forest Service, Coast Guard and Air Force officials said. In October, the Defense Department ordered seven C-27Js transferred to the Army Special Operations Command.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Tremper, a Coast Guard spokesman in Washington, D.C., said he did not have a timeline on when the maritime service would receive the 14 planes.
“At this point, there’s no specific timeline of when the transfer will happen,” he said.
The twin propeller-engine Spartan was pulled out of Air National Guard operations, which had flown the plane exclusively, and sent to the “boneyard” at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., beginning last July, Dayton Daily News archives show.
Today, 13 planes remain in storage with a 14th at a L-3 Communications factory in Waco, Texas, with the plane slated to join the others headed to Davis-Monthan, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in an email. The Dayton Daily News reported on the planes trip from production line to storage in October.