News: Alaska Army Guard receives 1 of only 3 C-12J airframes in the US Army
Story by Sgt. Edward Eagerton
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - The Alaska Army National Guard took possession in June of one of only three C-12J Huron aircraft that belong to the U.S. Army after trading the C-12U King aircraft they previously had in their inventory.
The C-12J Huron is the U.S. military designation for the Beechcraft 1900C, a 19-passenger, twin engine turboprop fixed-wing aircraft. The primary mission of the C-12J is moving Department of Defense personnel between locations.
“Previously, we had the C-12U, which is the King Air 200 variant,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Paul Moore, a senior instructor pilot with Detachment 54, Operational Support Airlift Agency, Alaska Army National Guard.
With Alaska being such an expansive state, and serviced by a limited amount of roads, aviation assets are crucial to the transportation of service members and equipment to and from remote towns across the state.
Until the end of fiscal year 2013, the AKARNG maintained a unit of C-23 Sherpa aircraft that performed many of the same roles as the C-12J. Within the budgetary constraints of divestiture, the C-23s were retired when active duty Army decided the Sherpa was expendable in its need to shrink their budgets.
Losing the C-23s put additional strain on the C-12U, explained Moore. So when it was announced that one of the three U.S. Army C-12Js were being made available, OSAA personnel from Alaska put their name on the list of hopefuls wanting to give the plane a new home.
“We had lost all of our Sherpa aircraft, hence needing a larger aircraft to be able to take some of those passengers,” said Moore. “We put our name in the hat, and we were the lucky ones to be able to make the transfer.”
Aside from the added passenger capacity of five to seven more passengers than the C-12U carried, the C-12J's larger fuselage also accommodates a large cargo door in the back of the aircraft. The bulkheads in the aircraft can also be removed to allow the plane to hold more cargo.
“It gives us a little bit of flexibility to be able to use it as a passenger or a cargo configured aircraft,” Moore said, “but especially for the passenger configuration and being able to move more at any given time than to have to do duplicate runs or missions for larger groups of people.”
For this particular airframe, its acquisition and subsequent transfer from Germany to Alaska would not be its first time landing on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
“This aircraft was actually stationed here with the 517th Airlift Squadron of the U.S. Air Force,” said Moore. “It was delivered from the Air Force to the 57th Aviation Battalion of the U.S. Army in Stuttgart, Germany, and now it’s come full circle back.”
With an approximate range of 1,200 nautical miles, the trip from Germany to Alaska took four days.
“We stopped in Iceland the first night,” said Moore. “The next night, we stopped in Bangor, Maine. Afterwards, we stayed in Seattle before heading back to Alaska. You’re seeing part of the country you don’t ever get to fly over. It’s always exciting.”