Winner of Joint Cargo Aircraft has been selected

An L-3 Communications-Alenia North America team won the contract for the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA), a multi-billion-dollar program shared by the Army and the Air Force.

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The winning team offered Alenia’s C-27 J Spartan cargo aircraft. The contract could be worth up to $2 billion.

The Pentagon approved an initial purchase of 78 aircraft between 2008 and 2012 and the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, Ken Krieg, approved the Army’s and Air Force’s request to proceed with a so-called “low rate initial production.”

The other competitor for the program was a team of Raytheon and EADS North America, which offered the CASA C-295 aircraft.

The JCA program has not been without controversy in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill since the Department of Defense leadership decided that the Army and Air Force should share the program. In its version of the 2008 defense authorization bill, the House withheld funding for the JCA until the Pentagon submits several airlift studies. Meanwhile Senate authorizers included a provision in their version of the bill to give control of all fixed-wing aircraft to the Air Force, a move that could devoid the Army of control over the JCA, if approved, when House and Senate go to conference.

Meanwhile, Army and Air Force officials have emphasized that the two services are dedicated to the joint program office.