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Non-Developmental Airlift Aircraft (NDAA)
Commercial Derivative Aircraft (CDA)

The C-33 designation was reserved for the Non-Developmental Airlift Aircraft project for a commercial freighter to supplement the C-17. During 1994 and 1995 the Defense Department engaged in a comprehensive process to refine airlift requirements, analyze various aspects of airlift, and prepare for an airlift fleet mix decision. A Defense Acqusition Board review satisfied congressional direction to conduct a Cost And Operational Effectiveness Analysis, to consider the C-17 and mixes of alternative aircraft, and to preserve intertheater airlift capacity. Initial material solutions considered included: buy a modified Boeing 747-400 NDAA, restart the C-5 production line, extend the C- 141 service life, and continue C- 17 production. The field eventually narrowed to: the Boeing 747-400, the Lockheed-Martin C-5D, and the McDonnell Douglas C- 17.

The Strategic Airlift Force Mix Analysis [SAFMA] study found that within the scope of fleet mixes being actively considered (up to 120 C-17s) only two of the mixed fleet alternatives, one with 86 C-17s and 30 C-33s and another with 100 C-17s and 18 C-33s, performed as well or better than a fleet with 120 C-17s. These mixed fleets delivered as much outsize cargo but more oversize and bulk cargo than a fleet with 120 C-17s. For example, a fleet with 100 C-17s and 18 C-33s delivered 5,000 more tons of oversize cargo and about 2,000 more tons of bulk cargo in the required time frame.

The SAFMA also addressed the impact of airfield constraints due to reduced airfield availability, ramp space, and services; and other limitations on the number of aircraft that can be accommodated and serviced on the ground at one time. The term maximum on ground refers to the maximum number of aircraft on the ground that can be parked, unloaded, and serviced in a given time period. In this regard, the MRS BURU and SAFMA studies assumed a moderate maximum on ground, a reduced level of capability based on the experience of Desert Shield/Desert Storm, AMC operation plans, and maximum on ground assumptions used in a C-17/NDAA cost and operational effectiveness analysis completed by the Institute for Defense Analyses in December 1993. Constrained maximum on ground conditions favored the more maneuverable C-17 over the larger C-33 aircraft.

The NDAA study [The NDAA Report: An Application of Commercial Acquisition (Washington, D.C.: Non-Developmental Airlift Aircraft System Program Office, 1994)] focused on a minimally modified Boeing 747 cargo air-craft. These "minimal" modifications included hardened decks and a flip-up nose and ramp system for ease of straight-in loading versus the side-mounted-cargo-door style loading of the commercial industry. Consequently, the price for the NDAA alternative increased from under $150 to about $200 million per aircraft.41 Nevertheless, after examining several options, the most cost-effective solution was an 86/30 mix of C-17 and NDAA aircraft.42 This mix, however, did not allow for a full strategic brigade airdrop nor was it optimized for tactical airlift requirements and lesser regional contingencies in support of peace enforcement scenarios.

The Commercial Derivative Aircraft (CDA) program evaluated procurement of a Non-Developmental Airlift Aircraft (NDAA) to perform some of the functions of the C-17, should the C-17 not have achieved its cost and technical goals. NDAA was terminated in November 1995, because C-17 met program requirements. The NDAA served as an important competitive leveraging factor in helping achieve an affordable C-17 price from McDonnell-Douglas. The NDAA created a real alternative to the C-17, and as a result, created a sufficient incentive to put the C-17 program back on track.

On 04 November 1995 the Pentagon asked Congress for $18 billion Nov. 3 so it can buy 80 more C-17 cargo planes and triple the Air Force fleet to 120. Going with the C-17 meant the decision to consider Air Force use of the modified Boeing 747-400 Non-Developmental Airlift Aircraft was deferred. The decision came after a thorough review by the Defense Acquisition Board of all available airlift options. One "critical factor" in the decision was the plane's "maximum aircraft on ground," or MOG, comparison to the other aircraft, Kaminsky said. Basically, the MOG is a measure of the aircraft's ability to be on-loaded, off-loaded, refueled and operated in confined areas. For example, eight C-17s can operate in the same area where only three C-5 Galaxy or Boeing 747s can operate -- double the cargo capacity. That meant the C-17 spends less time on the ground and delivers more cargo faster.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:28:33 ZULU