Washington: The Army is aiming to corral costs across the service’s fixed-wing fleet and has tasked its new aviation program office to do just that.
The service’s new Fixed Wing Program Office will be the sole office in charge of buying and modernizing aircraft in the service’s 350-plane fleet, according to a service statement released today.
Headed up by Col. Brian Tachias, the new office is the eighth program office under the Army’s Aviation directorate based at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. The new program office’s work will focus primarily on driving “cost avoidance and cost savings measures” into the fleet, he said.
Those measures will be key as the Army and the rest of the services continue to grapple with massive budget pressures coming from the White House and Capitol Hill.
Creation of the new program office “indicates [service leaders] recognize the magnitude of work required to acquire, field, sustain, and modernize the Army’s Fixed Wing fleet,” Tachias said.
The job of buying and maintaining Army aircraft was spread across various service commands since the 1980s. But that practice proved duplicative and extremely costly to the service.
Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli eventually consolidated responsibility of all fixed-wing aircraft into the new office. That move was part of a massive service portfolio review conducted by the Army last year.
The new office is already heading up a large-scale effort to upgrade the service’s manned C-12 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. Those upgrades include “the latest military communications, navigation, surveillance, and aircraft survivability equipment for worldwide deployability,” the statement says.
The Army is also in the midst of revamping its strategy for unmanned ISR aircraft with an eye toward cost savings.
Along with upgrading the current fleet, the new office is working on a new fixed-wing utility aircraft for the Army. Service officials have been tasked to “initiate an exploration for a future utility aircraft,” according to the statement.
That work will feed into “a path forward” for the new plane developed by the new program office. “Together, we will ensure that we continue to provide our warfighters the best and safest equipment to fly,” Tachias said.
The last major fixed-wing program pursued by the service was the C-27J Spartan. The Army and Air Force teamed up to buy the smaller version of the C-130 Hercules in 2006.
The Army eventually pulled out of the deal and started looking for a new fixed-wing cargo aircraft solution.