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Air National Guard director: Fewer aircraft, more aircrew rotations overseas

by Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

8/11/2009 - ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) -- With a cut in the number of C-27 Joint Cargo Aircraft it is to receive, the Air National Guard may see heavier rotations of aircrews that fly the aircraft, the director of the Air National Guard said here recently.

Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III said the Air National Guard was originally slated to receive 78 aircraft, but will now get 38 with about half that number designated for duty overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"The concept of employment is that a rather large percentage of the 38 will be employed to theater," the general said.

And because the operational requirements did not drop with the number of aircraft the Air National Guard is to receive, that means more crews rotating through overseas duty.

"(With 78 aircraft it) allows you to have a lower crew ratio because you have more aircraft to rotate through theatre and you have more crews," General Wyatt said.

Initially, Air National Guard officials planned on having two crews assigned to each aircraft. With fewer aircraft, that means that four crews will be assigned to each aircraft. Those crews; however, still have training requirements to meet. With fewer aircraft available, that means that crews from other aircraft may get bumped up in the overseas rotations.

Additionally, that in turn means higher flying hours on individual aircraft in order to keep up with operational and training requirements. That may lead to higher maintenance requirements as well.

"Because you're going to be required to fly more hours, we're probably going to have to look at increasing the amount of maintenance," General Wyatt said.

Designated a joint aircraft to be used by both the Army and Air Force, the first aircrews are currently undergoing training. However, the Army has recently changed gears on utilizing the aircraft and in the near future it will be flown only by the Air Force, General Wyatt said.

The current allocation of 38 aircraft was proposed by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in the fiscal 2010 budget proposal now before Congress.

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