The C-26 is operated exclusively by the Air and Army National Guard and was first delivered in 1989. They have quick change passenger, medevac, or cargo interiors. The C-26A is the civilian equivalent of the Fairchild Metro III with the C-26B being equivalent to the Fairchild Metro 23. The C-26B(CD) [Counter Drug] and the UC-26 are National Guard Bureau aircraft used to support the Air National Guard in drug control operations. The UC-26C is a derivative of the Fairchild Merlin IVC. The C-26B provides time-sensitive movement of personnel and cargo, as well as limited medical evacuation. The UC-26C provides support to counter drug (CD) operations. Additionally, up to ten ANG C-26Bs are being modified to carry specialized electronic equipment used to support CD operations.
The SA-227 Metroliner III aircraft is an all-weather, twin-engine, turboprop designed for short-haul passenger and cargo carrying. The airplane can carry a maximum of 13 passengers and 850 pounds of cargo and can be modified to operate in a cargo-only configuration. The Metro is capable of communication on VHF and UHF frequencies, and can navigate using Automated Direction Finder (ADF), VHF Omnidirectional Range (VOR), Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) or GPS. It is also Instrumented Landing System (ILS) approach capable. The aircraft can fly into smaller fields with runways as short as 5,000 feet, depending on aircraft configuration and atmospheric conditions.
The National Guard Bureau's Counterdrug Directorate uses eleven (11) specially-equipped C-26 aircraft geographically positioned throughout the United States, and 76 specially-equipped OH-58 Reconnaissance and Interdiction Detachment helicopters located in 32 States. The aircraft support law enforcement agencies in the conduct of counterdrug activities. These assets would be of great value supporting emergency responders during a WMD incident. All of these aircraft are equipped with multi-band radios and forward-looking infrared radar (FLIR). The C-26 airframes are also equipped with aerial photography capability. These assets are currently approved for use only in the counterdrug program. Special use approval can be authorized on a case-by-case basis for emergency support. Designation of these assets as a chemical or biological support asset would require changes to current policy, and may require specific additional statutory authority.
The C-26 aircraft, manufactured by Fairchild Aircraft Incorporated, is a high performance, fixed wing, pressurized, twin engine turboprop that has accomodations for a pilot and a co-pilot and 19 passengers and/or cargo or a combination of both. It is powered by two Garrett TPE331-12URH engines, rated at 1100 shaft horsepower (820 kw) takeoff power and 1000 shaft horsepower (746 kw) maximum continuous power and equipped with 106 inch (269 cm) diameter McCauly full feathering, reversible, constant speed four bladed propellers.
The aircraft represents an on-call, rapid response, modern air transport for high priority resupply and movement of key personnel to remote, unserviced or feeder sites. Specifically, the aircraft is used to deliver repair parts, equipment, technical teams, crash and accident investigation teams. In its role, such functions as range clearance, Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC), administrative movement of personnel, transportation connections and courier flights are accomplished.
The C-26 Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) Follow-On Acquisition effort in 1997 focused on providing full CLS for 32 Air National Guard (ANG) and Army National Guard (ARNG) C-26B aircraft and 1 ANG UC-26C aircraft. The C-26 Program Office used acquisition streamlining initiatives to remove all Military Standards & Specifications (MIL STDs/SPECs) from the RFP. The RFP Support Office was employed to support the C-26 program. The team also reduced government-mandated Contract Data Requirements Lists (CDRLs) from 22 to 4, and substituted a performance-based Statement of Objectives (SOO) for a Statement of Work (SOW). The requirement was designed to conform to Federal Aviation Administration certifications and standards, creating a high level of interest and competition within the commercial industry. These efforts resulted in program cost avoidance of approximately $33.4M.
On 23 January 1998 the US Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center Reconnaissance Systems Program Office (ASC/RAKBL) awarded a $5,489,211 contract to Versatron Corp. for a replacement Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) System for the Air National Guard C-26B Aircraft. The system is a third generation detector technology, non developmental item consisting of eleven installed and fully integrated systems and two complete spares. The FLIR system includes a Thermal Imaging System (TIS), color TV and Laser Range Finder all co-located in a single gimbal turret, plus any separate associated electronic units. The turret fits in the existing pod and weighs less than 145 pounds. The total system including the turret, electronic units and cabling weighs less than 285 pounds. The turret rotates a full 360 degree in azimuth field of regard and elevation coverage above 0 degree level elevation and beyond -90 degrees (NADIR). The FLIR is able to receive azimuth and elevation cue commands. The Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) and Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference (NETD) combined must result in a Minimum Resolvable Temperature Difference (MRTD) that provides thermal sensitivity and spatial resolution to detect and recognize a .5m x 2m man size target from other thermal sources or the background at 30,000 feet slant range under clear visibility weather conditions.
A C-26 Tracker upgrade completed in 2002 included the addition of an APG-66 Air-to-Air Radar (similar to that used in the USAF F-16), a third generation infrared system and related navigation, power and communications equipment to a Colombian Air Force provided C-26 Aircraft. A major portion of the Counterdrug Technology Development Program Office [CDTDPO] C-26 Tracker Upgrade was the government acceptance evaluation of the final deliverable provided by Northrop Grumman/California Microwave Systems (NG/CMS). NG/CMS had been selected using the CECOM/R2CSR contract vehicle.
This evaluation involved a comprehensive review of the APG-66 radar. To reduce the amount of high cost flying hours that may have been required to accomplish this task, NAVAIR Integrated Program Team (IPT) members provided the services of their Air Combat Environment Test and Evaluation Facility (ACETEF). ACETEF's primary mission is to reduce technical risk and cost for Navy aircraft and aircraft systems through the use of simulation and stimulation during installed systems testing. The facility provides a multitude of resources and capabilities which are used for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) and Training in support of the systems development process and systems deployment.
Electronic Combat Stimulation (ECSTIM) supported the test by providing radar stimulation with the Universal Radar Moving Target Transponder (URMTT). The URMTT is a radar simulator used to provide simulation to complex and simple radar systems. It is a portable, open-loop, free-space simulator capable of providing a radar threat to virtually any radar system operating from 8 to 12 GHz. It operates 2-way over-the-air and completely unobtrusive to the system under test (SUT). URMTT produces targets that are indistinguishable from a real physical target. Its targets currently have a maximum range of 420 nmi and velocity from 0.3 to 12,000 knots which can be specified in increments of less than 0.5 knots; all targets have independent RCS, range, velocity and acceleration.
A Radar Signal Modulator (RSM) was added to the URMTT, which gave it the capability of simulating essentially any air frame/engine radar signature. The combination of URMTT and the RSM gave the complete system the capability of testing and training for non-cooperative target identification on any radar. The objective of this test was to support the verification of the integration of the APG-66 radar system. This test supported contractor operational verification through the evaluation of the APG-66 radar on the ground prior to flight-testing of the system. The verification included determining if the functionality of the APG-66 radar system, which concentrated on max and min ranges, and max and min airspeeds, target acquisition, frequency hopping, and operationally of the various radar channels. After successful, and time saving evaluation, and adjustment of the APG-66 radar the C-26 tracker configuration successful completed the radar evaluation and acceptance. Subsequently all other systems (infrared, communications and navigation) were also evaluated and proved acceptable. The unique and portable nature of the URMTT configuration also allowed it to be used to demonstrate the radar for the C-26 Tracker rollout at Andrews AFB earlier this year. The two (2) C-26 Tracker have since been delivered to the custody of the DOS Air Bridge Denial (ABD) program. The training for the C-26 Tracker Upgrade systems and the mission is now being conducted under the ABD program.
The objective of the Army aviation modernization strategy is to reduce the size of the rotary and fixed wing fleets to four aircraft types each via the Aviation Restructuring Initiative (ARI). ARI is the vehicle by which the Army intends to accomplish the reduction in fleet size and model types while maintaining the vital capabilities of the fleet. As a product of ARI, Army aviation's overall goal relative to the fixed wing fleet is to reduce the current number of models from 21 to 4.
- C-XX Short Range (SR); mission currently performed by U-21, et al
- C-XX Medium Range (MR); currently performed by C-12
- C-20 Long Range (LR); currently performed by C-20, C-21
- Multi-Mission Medium Tactical Transport (M3T2), currently performed by C-23, C-26