FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- While Washington was hosting the presidential inauguration to welcome the new commander in chief, Air Traffic Services Command held an inauguration of its own to welcome the newest addition to its fleet.

ATSCOM welcomed and christened its new C-12S airplane while bidding farewell to its predecessor, a JC-12D airplane, during an aircraft inauguration ceremony, said Col. Michael E. Demirjian, ATSCOM commander.

"It is fitting that on the same day that we retire the oldest C-12 in the Army inventory, we christen the newest," Demirjian said. "Tail No. 277 is the latest and most modern C-12 in the United States Army, and after being designated a C-12 Sierra, it's the only one in the Army inventory."

"Today, we bid farewell to a trusted and well-traveled companion, and welcome to our team a modern, new edition, which will enhance and increase our capabilities, and redefine our mission-essential tasks," said CW5 Doug Savell, ATSCOM Standardization and Certification chief and Federal Aviation Administration flight inspection pilot.

The new C-12 was a commercial, off-the-shelf acquisition coordinated by the Fixed Wing Program Management Office, U.S. Forces Command and the FAA, according to Demirjian, and is a fully deployable aircraft capable of supporting the war fighter with the latest aircraft survivability equipment.

"Aircraft 277 has an extended range of over 2,300 miles, is capable of flights in excess of eight hours, and, for those of you who follow Air Traffic Control, you know there have been a lot of changes, and as such this aircraft has the latest in next-generation flight inspection equipment and software to meet those changes -- this aircraft is state-of-the-art," said the colonel. "It's equipped with sophisticated, modern electronic flight devices and avionics, and this aircraft has all the requirements it needs to remain in service as long as (JC-12D)," which remained in service for more than 30 years.

The older aircraft supported missions throughout the contiguous U.S., Alaska and Panama, and has flown more than 14,500 incident-free hours in support of Department of Defense and FAA inspection missions, ATSCOM quality and assurance, Aviation Resource Management service inspections, and aircrew member training and evaluations, said Savell, adding that her call sign has been in use for over 30 years and is recognized by every U.S. Army and DOD facility throughout the U.S.

"(Her) final mission will be next week to conduct the quality assurance evaluation of Redstone Army Airfield in conjunction with the Installation Management Command," he said. "Upon completion of that final mission, (the JC-12D) will be used solely for aircrew member proficiency training until Feb. 15 when she will be flown to the Army Research Lab in Maryland."

The new aircraft has a lot to live up to, and with state-of-the art equipment, should have no trouble keeping up, according to the ATSCOM commander.

Compared to its predecessor, the C-12S has double the capable mission flight time; has a cruising speed of 275 knots, compared to the JC-12D's 255 knots; and has a maximum altitude of FL350, compared to the previous aircraft's FL280.

"(ATSCOM) was created to assist Army Aviation elements in combat and communication zones enabling Aviation units to operate in all conditions, and this newest aircraft continues and enhances our ability to support the war fighter," said Demirjian.