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Air Force grounds fleet of C-27J transport planes

The Air Force has grounded its fleet of C-27J transport planes, operated by state Air National Guard units, while it investigates the cause of a flight control problem that hampered a training flight of one of the aircraft last week.

The training flight on July 10 at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., landed safely, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Thursday.

The C-27J program office of the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base ordered the precautionary suspension of flights involving the aircraft while the Air Force works with the plane’s prime contractor, L-3 Communications, and the manufacturer, Alenia Aermacchi, to identify and resolve the problem.

“We don’t know how long the stand-down will last,” Stefanek said.

President Obama’s proposed fiscal 2013 defense budget recommended elimination of the C-27 fleet, as a cost-cutting measure. Some members of Congress, including lawmakers from Ohio, have said they oppose that plan. The Ohio Air National Guard’s Mansfield base is home to a C-27J mission.

The Defense Department chose the C-27J in 2007 to fill airlift needs of the Air Force and Army. The Air Force flew two of the C-27Js in Afghanistan during the past year, before removing them from that country within the last month.