Once the red-headed stepchild of the U.S. Air Force, the C-27J tactical airlifter has become a hot commodity in the U.S. government. The service’s decision early this year to mothball its 21 brand-new, twin-engine C-27Js — labeling the Alenia Aermacchi transports a niche capability too expensive to sustain alongside its other airlifters — triggered an interagency squabble between the U.S. Forest Service, bent on using them as much-needed firefighting tankers, and the U.S. Coast ...

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