Army Wants to Replace C-12 Fleet

Well, the Army wants to replace its 117-strong fleet of C-12 Huron twin turboprop planes that it uses for everything from ISR to light cargo hauling.

Wait a second, you say; didn’t the Army just pass a big effort to buy a fleet of twin turboprop transport planes to the Air Force only to see the boys in blue abandon that program? Yes indeed. But that program was aimed at replacing the Army’s C-23 Sherpa mid-sized airlifter with the C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft, you know, the tactical hauler the Army wanted to use to provide on-deman resupply to remote bases in Afghanistan.

The Army is now kicking off an effort to replace the Hawker Beechraft King Air-based C-12 with something similar that can perform similar duties as the C-12. Remember, the civilian-looking Huron’s have often been converted into spy planes outiftted with a ton of signals (SIGINT) and imagery intelligence collection tools. (The pic above shows the one of the Army’s RC-12N Guardrail spy planes from a while ago.) Heck, the Air Force even uses the MC-12 Liberty variant as a type of manned UAV, providing ISR overwatch to troops on the ground.

It will be interesting to see if the Army goes for something in the same size category as the C-12 or opts for a bigger airframe capable of replacing its relatively small Sherpa fleet and performing the wide-ranging duties of the C-12.

  • Mitch S.

    So is this going to be a repeat of the JCA and light attack aircraft fiascos?
    Will the Air Force see this as an opportunity to take more fixed wing from the Army?

    Let’s see if the AF proposes the C-12 replacement be a “joint” program.
    They’ll up the requirements to add cost and choose a foreign supplier to make Congress hate it then the AF will “agree” to cancel it and brag how they are contributing to reducing the DOD budget (and so deserves billions to spend on a new bomber and an F22 replacement).

  • blight_

    Curious if the services will try to consolidate a variety of specialized missions into a few common airframes. The cost savings associated with commonizing aren’t likely to be realized if it means premature retirement of numerous aircraft.

    Then again, we have to squeeze the stone until dollars come out so we can feed them to the more expensive combat programs.

  • Curious

    What exactly is a “manned UAV”?

    • Hotel55

      The opposite of an unmanned airplane.

    • MCQknight

      It’s a Manned Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or “MUAV “. Duh. (also less commonly known by its former name: an airplane)

      • 4FingerOfBourbon

        That is funny as hell right there…

    • UAVgeek

      Typically this refers to an “Optionally Manned Airplane” In other words, for some missions it can have a Human pilot and other ones it can be unmanned.

  • jamesb

    Mitch S …..
    DO NOT be surprised if the Air Force Dog rob’s this program from the Army…
    Send the Army drivers to the Infantry and then decides they need a Jet like the 737 to do the job…
    And then cancels the program and send the 737 to some OTHER country so they can get another fast mover like the F-35 Z version!

    Really What BS is gonna come out of this?
    No C-27J….
    No Light prop attack a/c…..
    The Army should just keep the a/c they have cause the Air Force WILL find a way to screw them again…..

  • ajspades

    Why not have both services use the MC-12? Also, the C-12 (or one of the many King Air variants) are still in production, so why not just use them?. Does anyone have any information on WHY the Army wants to replace the C-12?

  • stephen russell

    Hmm, maybe planes have these Reuses Civil:
    Air Cargo
    Exec Use
    Border patrols.
    CG duty?

    • Donald E. Fichtner

      Agree. Let me see A-10 (they tried) now the C-12.

  • FormerDirtDart

    The RC-12Ns were supposed to be replaced by the C-27J, along with the C-23s. Back when the program was the the Multi-Mission Tactical Transport.

    My guess is the US Army has determined the surveillance mission has outgrown the Huron air frame, and they still want to reduce their aircraft types.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the went with something like the C-26 Metroliners already in their inventory. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the C-26s are still in production.
    Maybe the DHC-6 Twin Otter

    • Jai Eugene

      C-27 was an army JCIDS effort that the Air Force took over in a turf war. The C-27 was never intended to perform the SEMA mission but to augment C-12s, and replace the C-23. in other other words to perform intra-theater lift ICW CH-47s. A mission that the Air Force was loathe to fulfill with the C-130.

      The C-23 is scheduled to be mothballed, and the C-26 is being upgraded.

      • FormerDirtDart

        Sorry, but you are wrong. But way back when the Army’s Fixed Wing Modernization plans called it the Multi-Mission Tactical Transport, the plane that became the C-27 was indeed supposed to replace both the C-23 and RC-12N.

        • Jai Eugene

          roger that. I will pass that link along to the PM later today.

  • jamesb

    According to Wiki The Army has 3 C-26 Metro’s…
    They could be as old as 30 years….

    A Dash 8 would be a answer…
    27 Mil….400 knots…..and more room…..
    And the a/c are made in Canada which should make Congress happy

    • Mark Dunlap

      Agree….Dash 8 provided it can be converted to “cargo” configuration. Not that I don’t love a “Twatter” but Dash 8 better. Faster than a C-23B Sherpa but the D.H. has to have a way to drop Aerial Resupply which the Sherpa does do well (LCAD, CDS like loads). Regards

  • Lance

    What is wrong with the DoD? BIG cuts came last summer BIGGER one coming this winter. They make a budget to fit in the losses and keep just what modernization planes they need the most not more. And here the USAF and the Army are blowing more money they wont have for a replacement of a plane that is doing fine now. Same with the USAF making a new TX trainer when all its dollars are spent on the JSF. I hope when sequestration hits some senator can knock some sense in there dumb Generals to drop pet projects for not the spend must stop.

    • William C.

      And when the USAF is still expected to be as capable as ever despite cuts, what are they supposed to do? Not plan to eventually replace ancient airframes? These dumb senators are the very reason we’re in this mess and you want *them* to knock some sense into military leadership?

      • Lance

        Yes since the military keeps making more programs that they know they dont have money for.

  • Vpanoptes

    “It will be interesting to see if the Army goes for something in the same size category as the C-12 or opts for a bigger airframe…”. Hmmm, like a C-27? Sorry, couldn’t resist….

    • Tom

      The C-27 is much bigger than a C-12, just because they’re both twin turboprop aircraft does not make them comparable.

      Honestly, if the C-12’s are getting worn out I think the best replacement is likely … new C-12’s. Dash-8’s someone mentioned are not a bad aircraft, but likely larger than needed as well.

  • Guest

    Hmmm…or get the C-27J to survive after someone does an HONEST assessment of their actual cost…yea, not the smoke and mirrors from HAF/A9. Then let the Air Guard have the freedom to do everything the plane is capable of doing…like add an ISR capability to it (among other capabilities).

    On a side note…I would love to see the AF apply the same process to the F-35 that they used to show the the per hour cost for a C-27J is over $9000 as was testified to SASC…really wonder what that per hour cost would be :-D

    • george

      The Ohio Air guard says they operated there’s for around 2800 per hour

  • King Air 350 based aircraft would be similar to the 200 based C-12, and are already in US military service. If they want to make up for the loss of the C-27, the Casa-235 is a modest increase in size while still smaller and cheaper than the C-27, and has an established military pedigree – is also in service with the US Coast Guard.

    What is the problem with the C-12? The King Air 200 is still in production. I can only imagine they do want to take up some of that lost C-27 cargo capacity.

    • Nicky

      I can see the US Army going with the CASA-235 or even the CASA-295. The CASA-235 is the same as the one the US Coast Guard is using. It worked out very well for them.

  • d. kellogg

    Beechcraft 1900D’s would be a more likely near-term candidate to replace the Huron fleet.

    They’re beefier than the standard King Airs the C-12 is derived from, and again, they’re the nearest to production-ready airframe. Numerous small/regional air carriers even use them for light cargoes (side-loading).

    The DHC-8 is a considerably larger aircraft comparatively, a step up in size constraints and technical complexity like comparing the C-27 to the C-23 that the JCA was meant to replace.
    Army doesn’t need overly-complex fixed wing with a lot of extra capabilities that it was never looking for in the first place.

    Gods-of-Aviation forbid: the moment the Army announced contract/interest in something like the Dash-8, along comes the USAF and suggests how they could use such an aircraft, too.
    We all saw were that takes things.

    A quick-to-production theoretical 1900E could be built (militarized avionics),
    powered by the same CT-7/T700-core turbines as the AH-64 and UH-60 fleets.
    That could give the airframe more oomph for cargo and field performance than the typical C-12.
    (Dare we call it “C-12J” ?)

    • FormerDirtDart

      One problem, Beechcraft 1900s are no longer produced.
      While I totally agree that a plane in that class would seem to be a likely direction. Only thing is, I’m not sure anyone is building a comparative aircraft at this time.
      Now, a lot of the federal funds supporting the small commuter airlines has dried up. So, it is probably possible to acquire used air frames.

      There are some un-pressurized aircraft with similar capacity still being produced: Dornier 228, the slower CASA C-212, and yet even slower DHC-6 Twin Otter

  • EW3

    As a Vietnam Vet and an Elint guy, that picture just warms my heart !

    Back then receivers were not nearly as sensitive as they now so to get SIGINT
    they had to fly low and slow.

  • derping around

    The army wants to replace something? Imaigine That?!!!

  • wildfly

    So whats wrong with consolidating and buying more Pilatus PC-12’s? They outperform the King Air and a single engine is apparently OK for the primary USAF Fighter (F35).

    • FormerDirtDart

      It depends on which King Air you’re talking about. The majority of the Army’s C-12s are 200 series, which yes, the PC-12 has better performance data. However, the Army also own a large numbers of 300/350 series airplanes (C-12S) which out perform the Pilatus.

  • Bob

    The Air Force and the Army do not have the same tactical use of aircraft. There has been a problem with the procurement of aircraft since the procurement of the first fixed wing and helicopters. The Air Force can not be depended to provide needed support down to the lowest level. It seems that some especially in the Army never learn. In the 1960’s the 101st Airborne actually had to RENT aircraft from the Air National Guard in order to drain in a time of tight budgers. What happened to the Caribo? The Air Force fought that program mainely because the 11th Air Assault used enlisted pilots. The same fight took place with the Helicopter Flight program and the Army finally decided to go to Warrant Office Flight to appease the Air Force. The Air Force was all for the C-127 program untill the procurement was made and then they wanted to take the money and run. AIRBORNE! GERONIMO!!

  • jamesb

    The Army needs to handle it’s own …..

  • JSCS

    No common airframes? C-47 comes to mind…..wait, folks are still using them. How about the turbo version?

  • jamesb

    Ah for Kellogg….
    It seems that YOU know something everyone else doesn’t…..
    Wiki lists the 1900D as a a/c the Army DOES USE…..

  • Bill Adkins

    The intent is to provide a unit that offers a balance between size, range,speed and reliability/dependability within a range of Dollars. With our financial turmoil presently I hope they can adapt some existing A/C. But we must keep in mind these units are needed for support of the Troops. It’s not a few Generals buying toys for War Games!

  • Rudogg

    Beech King Air 1900 will keep the pace….Army/USAF really should utilize……..

  • John T.

    For all of you that are under 60 yrs of age. The AF, in 1966, cried like babies when the Army had the CV-2B (Cargo/troop acft (30,000 Lbs)) and the OV-1 Observation acft (with guns). The Army had to take the guns off the OV-1’s and give the CV-2B to the AF. Now they are going to complain about replacing the C-12 (I had over thirty years on the C-12 Maint. program). Also there is a stipulation that the Army is restricted to 12,500 Lbs on fixed wing Acft. But that went out the window when the Army started flying the Dash7 and Beech 1900. Oh Hell, they should go out and purchase some Boeing 737.

  • Clinton C

    Aerial Common Sensor, the Embraer 145, was the original replacement for the aged Guardrail Aircraft and that program tanked partially from the cost of retrofitting a commercial off the shelf airframe. The army needs to purchase new 350’s and convert them to an RC-12 with a one for one swap to include all standardized avionics to stop the madness of the current fleet of X, N, K, P, D/H. The X-model was the right path, but once again, someone veered off course.

  • johnysmith

    give ur scraps to philippines ^____________________^

  • Bill Vieau

    People, The USAF does not like the Army Having aN A/c weighing more than 12,500 lbs. FACT. I flew the OV1 Mohawk ( as an Obsever in Germany( B Co ASTA Plt, 503rd Avn Co 3rd Armor Div 63-66. Flt school Friesbes 67-69 61st AHC. The Air farce is such a discombotatd org is a wonder why we can ocomplish anything. 1979 Tyndall AFB, William Tell comp. I had the pleasure of standing by an OV1 on display with an officer I had served with in RVN unit waS 131st Sac. AF BG came by to inguire why thge Army had a A/c that exceed 12,500 lbs and had inertial nav sys, when he commanded an 141 sgd that did not have that cap. As a W3 about to retire I said that it probably because they could not operate it BTYwho spotted the movers on the trail in Loas for the Air Farce for the C130 gunships???? Care to guess –OV 1 from ther 131st Spuds

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