Saturday, March 17, 2012

Interesting C-27 numbers from a discussion on the Hill

Interesting numbers from a SASC C-27 meeting last week. Again, the main justification seems to be supporting Afghanistan; which we are leaving.

Portman said he believed the C-27J cost $2,100 an hour to operate. The CH-47 Chinook helicopter costs $11,000 an hour and the C-130 costs between $5,100 and $7,100 per hour, he added. "From a taxpayer perspective, the C-27 is not only enabling you to land at smaller airstrips and providing unique performance, but it's saving the taxpayer money," he added.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense has conducted a 25-year life-cycle-cost projection of the C-27J, C-130J and the C-130H aircraft, Schwartz told reporters at a Feb. 29 Defense Writer's Group breakfast. The cost of the C-130 aircraft is less than a C-27J, he said. "If I recall the numbers correctly, it was $308 million an airplane life-cycle cost for the C-27J," he noted. "It was $209 [million] for the J-model C-130 and it was $185 million for the [C-130H]."

Odd numbers.

The C-27s that have been bought will go into storage.

So if there is no justification for this aircraft, why was this effort ever started?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The C-27Js might be going to the USCG, to replace the HU-25 Guardian (Falcon Jet.) Not sure what this would do to the HC-144 program.

goldeel1 said...

Something doesn't add up here and in a big way. Either Portman is wrong on his hourly operating costs or Schwartz and the Office of the Sec Def are totally inaccurate in their 25 year life cycle projections.

Even just pulling basic ballpark acquisition cost data from Wikipedia shows that the 2012 purchase cost of a C-27J is $53.3 million (there is no mention of whether this is the companies basic listed price or if this is the negotiated lot buy price paid by the USAF, I will assume the later). At the same time the last available price for a C-130J is given as either $62 or $65 million dollars flyaway cost in 2008 dollars. So straight away the C-130 is around 10-15% dearer to purchase and even if we take Portman's lower hourly rate of $5100 (there is nothing to say this is the J models hourly rate in fact given the Sec Def lower life cycle cost numbers for the H versus J it may well be the higher number of $7100 per hour, 3 1/2 times greater than a C-27J) it is still almost 2 1/2 times more expensive to operate compared to a C-27J. Given it's greater size and twice the number of engines this seems reasonable.

So how is it that Schwartz says the Office of Sec Def claim that despite a roughly 10-15% lower purchase price and almost 75% lower hourly running cost, somehow it ends up being almost 50% dearer over an average life cycle. Exactly where does the extra $100 million+, come from? Purchase costs are purchase costs, operating costs are operating costs, they cant escape that. And no amount of midlife upgrades or possible structural rebuilds can justify let alone account for spending well over $100 million on a platform that only cost half that to buy brand new. And that is assuming you did nothing similar to the C-130J, which is totally unreasonable. Almost certainly they are pulling a swifty by claiming that the numbers are based on shifting "X" amount of freight or troops over a set distance and wrongly assuming/implying that is what the C-27J is to be used for. They know full well the C-27 is there precisely to take smaller loads that make using a C-130 (as currently is the case) highly uneconomical. using that logic, then it would make sense to dispose of all the C-130's and replace them with C-17's or even new build C-5's. It's nothing more than a smokescreen apples against oranges faux argument.

I think I see the problem, either Schwartz and various Govt agencies cannot perform basic maths (which would explain the debacles surrounding other programs like the F-35) or they are just making it all up and telling blatant lies publicly.

Anonymous said...

Solution to your problem, they were trained by the DMO.

Chuck Hill said...

The Coast Guard could use them both to replace some of the older HC-130Hs and to avoid buying more HC-144s than they already have, depending on how many of the C-27Js can be made available.