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VC-143A Medium Range Command and Control Aircraft (MRC2A)

The VC-143A is a single Challenger 604 aircraft, which was acquired by the Coast Guard in December 2005 as its new Medium Range Command and Control Aircraft (MRC2A). It provides support exclusively for the Secretary, Department of Homeland Security and the US Coast Guard Commandant.

On 17 June 2005 the USCG announced plans to award one firm fixed price contract using FAR Part 15 procedures for the lease of a Medium Range Command and Control Aircraft, to include an option to purchase, which provides the best value in accordance with notice Solicitation Number HSCG23-05-R-DAV334. The USCG intends to evaluate proposals as submitted and make an award without any discussions. Technical capability was of the greatest importance with remaining factors listed in descending order of importance. All evaluation factors (other than price), when combined, were significantly more important than price. Offerors are advised that, as technical ratings become more equal among competitors, prices will become more significant; however, the government reserves the right to award to a higher priced proposal if deemed the overall best value to the government.

The number 143 was selected on 15 December 2005, reviving the "old" (pre-1962) USAF C-series, where the last actually allocated number was 142. Unofficial information indicates that there was some internal DOD confusion as to whether C-42 (the nominal next number in the post-1962 C-series) was available for allocation. The result was the continuation of the older C-series, because the C-143 slot was definitely available.

The Challenger 601 addressed the original CL-600 Challenger's weight problems and replaced the troubled ALF-502 turbofans, creating a highly successful full size corporate jet. The 601 first flew on 10 April 1982 and for a time was offered alongside the 600. The 600 was dropped from the model line in 1983. Further improvements to the basic design led to the Challenger 604. Improvements include an advanced Collins ProLine IV EFIS avionics system with color displays, higher weights, CF-34-3B turbofans and increased fuel tankage. Many other minor changes were incorporated based on Bombardier's experience with the Canadair Regional Jet. First flight with CF-34-3A engines was in September 1994, first flight with the CF-34-3B engines was on 17 March 1995, with Transport Canada certification granted that September. First delivery was in January 1996.

The spacious Challenger 604 became the world's best-selling large corporate jet due to its mission versatility, supreme comfort, and cost efficiency. At its introduction, the Challenger 604 set new standards in general aviation for comfort, low cabin noise levels, and unprecedented cabin space. The CL 604 offered the opportunity to fly one of the most luxurious business jets available in the country. The Challenger 604 makes lengthy trips comfortable and enjoyable with room for 9 to 10 passengers. Amenities include a full service galley, large comfortable leather seating, in-flight accessible baggage and a spacious private lavatory.

The FAA has been responsible for all Department of Defense navigational aid flight inspection, including combat and contingency inspections, since 1991 when the Air Force transferred six Hawker 800 aircraft to the FAA. The International Flight Inspection Aircraft Program performs flight inspection of air navigation facilities and procedures in the Continental United States (CONUS), air navigation facilities and procedures owned and operated by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and certain foreign-owned air navigation facilities and procedures that are critical to the U.S. military mission.

The Department of Defense has not provided funding to replace the aging C-29 aircraft currently used by the Air Force for the Combat Flight Inspection Mission. The C-29 aircraft cannot meet range and payload requirements currently faced in Iraq, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia. FAA's current fleet of British Aerospace Model BAe-800 (Hawker) aircraft can no longer support current and anticipated worldwide military contingencies, other international flight inspection missions, and domestic "new NAS" requirements.

With the war in Iraq taxing the abilities of the aging Hawkers, the government decided the aircraft should be replaced with new Bombardier Aerospace Challenger 600s through a unique FAA/ Air Force replacement program that shares the transition implementation costs. The agreement allows the Hawker aircraft to be traded in because they can't meet payload, range and response time requirements. The overall program replaces the six Hawker aircraft with three new (standard) Bombardier Challenger 604 (CL 604) aircraft and reduces the total fleet by three aircraft. The FAA will purchase two and the U.S. Air Force will purchase one Challenger 600 series aircraft. In the future, three new CL 604 and three existing CL 601 aircraft will fly long/prolonged flight inspection missions.

The FAA/USAF replacement program began with the trade-in of three Hawker aircraft and joint funding for the purchase of the first Challenger 604 aircraft in December 2003, which was scheduled for delivery in the summer of 2005. Meantime, the Air Force was buying active missile defense systems, forward looking infrared enhanced vision systems, aircrew protective ballistic panels and single-color unobtrusive paint schemes that increase protection of FAA aircraft.

In January 2004 Bombardier Aerospace received one firm order and two options for Bombardier Challenger 604(i) widebody aircraft from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for use in runway and airway calibration and other special missions. The new aircraft will join a fleet of three Bombardier Challenger 601-3R(i) jets and six Bombardier Learjet(i) 60 midsize aircraft currently being used by the FAA for civil and military runway calibration worldwide. It is scheduled for delivery in November 2004. The aircraft will be produced at Bombardier's facility in Montreal.

The agency and Air Force initially [2005] planned to support each other by leveraging funding between both organizations in the proposed FY 2007 procurement of the remaining two Challenger aircraft with each agency purchasing one aircraft. In FY 2008, it is planned to acquire a second Challenger 604 aircraft to be delivered in FY 2008. The proceeds from the sale of the three remaining Hawker aircraft will be used as part payment for the new aircraft. The program commenced in FY 2004, the first CL 604 was delivered in FY 2005 and completion is scheduled for FY 2009.



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