Elbit’s M7 Wins 2012-2014 Maintenance for US C-23, C-26 Fleets
M7 Aerospace became an Elbit Systems of America subsidiary in December 2010. Its 6 integrated business segments include Aerostructures Manufacturing; Government Logistics Support Services; Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul; Engineering Services; Aircraft Parts & Support and Supply Chain Management and Purchasing. Their platform specialties include the Shorts Aircraft series of short take-off light transports (incl. US Army’s C-23), and Fairchild’s Merlin & Metro (US C-26 variants).
The US military continues to operate variants of these aircraft, and M7’s strong position in those niches has led to a number of contract wins. A pair of December 2011 support contracts, dating back to FY 2005 and FY 2009, illustrate the point…
Contracts & Key Events
Dec 23/11: M7 Aerospace LP in San Antonio, TX wins an $11.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for life cycle contractor support of the US Army’s fleet of C-26B Metroliners. Work will be performed in San Antonio, TX, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/14. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 2 bids received by U.S. Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-09-C-0207). The other bidder was likely Lear Siegler, who won the FY 2010 contract.
The Metro was developed as a stretched version of Swearingen’s Merlin II corporate turboprop, which was introduced in 1965. Over the years, a total of 331 Merlins, 117 Merlin IVs and 605 Metros were built. M7 is the type certificate holder for the SA226 (Merlin) and SA227 (Metro) series aircraft, which gives them access to production drawings, and certification data; the firm also provides engineering support, a large spares inventory, and spares manufacturing capability in their Texas factory. As the certificate holder, M7 offers support to the global fleet of more than 750 Metros and Merlins.
The 11 National Guard RC-26Bs are equipped with advanced day/night cameras and communications gear, and are mostly used for drug interdiction surveillance, with a secondary capacity as disaster response survey and communications platforms.
The US Navy also operates the C-26 in Europe (4 USN C-26Ds, cargo/passenger), and Hawaii (2 USN RC-26Ds and 1 EC-26D, range operations at Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands). Those 7 planes were the subject of a separate M7 support contract in March 2011, covering the USN and USMC’s UC-35 jets as well as its C-26 turboprops.
Dec 23/11: M7 Aerospace, LP in San Antonio, TX wins a $27.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for C-23 Sherpa life cycle contractor support. Work will be performed in San Antonio, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/14. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 3 bids received by U.S. Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-05-C-0124).
The Shorts C-23 turboprop was bought by the US Army as an in-theater light transport, in order to fill the void left when the USAF absorbed the Army’s transports, and then abandoned this role. As of 2008, Flight International pegged the Army’s C-23 fleet at 43 aircraft. The US LCA/JCA competition was intended to serve as its successor, but the USAF used political maneuvering to take full control of that program and its C-27J transports.
In March 2011, M7 signed an agreement with the exclusive worldwide distributor for Shorts aircraft parts, ACL Aviation Support Ltd (ACLAS). It leveraged over 5 years of service by M7 as the US Army’s Life Cycle Contract Support (LCCS) for the C-23, as well as work with other Shorts SD3 customers in North, Central and South America. The point of the agreement is faster delivery, higher levels of customer service, reduced downtime and reduced transportation cost for Shorts aircraft operators in the Americas, since M7’s spare parts inventory is warehoused and distributed through M7 HQ at the International Airport in San Antonio, Texas.