Early operations in Afghanistan and Iraq led US combat commanders to ask for transport aircraft that could use smaller runways, and land closer to zones of operations. The US Army pressed its King Air C-12s and Shorts C-23s into service, but beginning in 2004, they began supplementing those efforts with contractors. Helicopters have also been hired, but cost, speed, and carrying capacity all favor fixed-wing planes whenever possible.
The US military hoped that Blackwater affiliate Presidential Airways, Inc. of Moyock, NC would be able to address some of these issues, using EADS-CASA 212 and Bombardier Dash-8 transport aircraft. For a while, they did. Presidential received several contracts over the years for fixed-wing, in-theater contract transport around Afghanistan, but the fixed-wing business was bought by AAR, and their firm is no longer the only option. As of 2010, the USA began spreading fixed-wing contracts among a number of contractors. This article chronicles fixed-wing contracts from 2004 – 2012.