Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA)

Friday June 22, 2007

What is it? The Army and the Air Force have partnered to shape complementary requirements for the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program. The JCA replaces three less capable and aging Army airframes (C-23, C-26 and some C-12s) with more capable cargo platforms, while simultaneously modernizing the reserve components' (ARNG and USAR) aviation fleet. The JCA will provide a niche capability to help meet the full-spectrum requirements of the joint force commander.

What has the Army done? On June 13, the Defense Department selected contractor L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, L.P. to produce the JCA. The Army is scheduled to receive 54 of the total 78 planes in this contract. For the Army, the new aircraft focuses on time-sensitive, mission-critical resupply-and-key-personnel transport to the last tactical mile. The first JCA should reach the Army by fiscal 2010.

What continuing efforts does the Army have planned? The two Services have articulated the way ahead for the program:
- The desired outcome is to serve Soldiers in the new modular configuration with agile, flexible, deployable and sustainable aviation units.
- The Army JCA will be required to deliver into austere areas with unimproved landing surfaces as short as 2,000 feet, a greater access capability than available with C-23 and C-12.
- The Air Force JCA will provide a mixed fleet option to conduct the intra-theater airlift mission, incorporating all the combatant commander and component intra-theater lift needs across all theaters.

Why is this important to the Army? Today's enemy tactics combined with the austere operating environments for full- spectrum operations have invigorated the need for a more capable, smaller aircraft in both the Army and Air Force inventory. The JCA will significantly aid in the full spectrum of operations, including natural disaster relief operations. The JCA will be stationed extensively throughout the reserve components and be available for federal and state missions alike. The JCA is capable of operating in austere areas with unimproved landing surfaces as short as 2,000 feet. In short, the JCA flies to places the C-130 would not go and moves cargo that the C-23, C-26 and C-12 are ill equipped to carry, such as bulk food, fuel, medical equipment and supplies, and wounded warriors.


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