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C-23 Sherpa

The Sherpa is an all-freight version of the Shorts 330 regional airliner with a 5 ft-6 inch square cabin section over an unimpeded hold length of 29 ft. Through-loading is provided via a large forward freight door, and via a full width, hydraullically operated rear ramp door with removable roller conveyors. The C-23 Sherpa is the Army National Guardís answer to missions requiring an aircraft that is capable of faster, higher-altitude and longer-distance coverage than helicopters. The Sherpa comes with a low operating cost due to its simple, robust construction, compared to that of other cargo aircraft.

The Army National Guard has procured 44 C-23B/B+ Sherpa light cargo aircraft to support theater aviation, cargo, airdrop, and aeromedical evacuation for both state and federal wartime missions. The C-23 multi-role utility airplane is the only cargo airplane in the Army, and is organized into 4 theater airplane companies. Each company has four detachments. The detachments are all located in different states. Each detachment has two aircraft. In the Alaska Army National Guard the UV-18As have been replaced by the C-23B+. Requirements exist to standardize C-23B/B+ systems to include global positioning systems, high frequency radios, airdrop equipment, aeromedical evacuation, and engine upgrades. A few of these aircraft are used as all-freight regional airliners by Air Force Material Command.

The aircraft can carry up to 30 passengers in airline-type seats, along with palletized cargo, four small pallets, and do airdrop of those pallets, or 18 litter patients plus their medical personnel. It has a range of a thousand miles, cruises up to two hundred knots, and itís square because most of the things the Army has are square rather than round. It has six-and-a-half feet of headroom. It is unpressurized, but if it flies above 10,000 feet for an extended period of time, the crew wears oxygen masks. The Sherpa has a crew of three, but sometimes flies with four man crews if there is a need for two flight engineers.

The C-23B Sherpa aircraft is a light military transport aircraft, designed to operate efficiently, even under the most arduous conditions, in a wide range of mission configurations. The large square-section hold, with excellent access at both ends, offers ready flexibility to perform ordnance movement, troop & vehicle transport, airborne/airdrop missions, medical evacuation and is suitable for conversion to other specialist duties such as maritime or land surveillance.

Configured as a troop transport, the Sherpa provides comfortable, air-conditioned seating for 30 passengers, features "walk about" headroom, a removable latrine unit, and has a 500 lb capacity / 345 cu. ft. baggage compartment located in the nose of the aircraft. Additional space for a 600 lb capacity optional baggage pallet is provided on the rear ramp of the aircraft.

During airborne operations, the aircraft accommodates 27 paratroopers. Optionally, it can be outfitted to handle up to 18 stretchers plus 2 medical attendants. The airplane meets Army Short Take-off & Landing guidelines (STOL), can operate from unpaved runways and is equipped with self-contained ground handling equipment. Operational experience with this remarkable aircraft has proven it to have low maintenance costs and low fuel consumption.

The grey, 30-foot long Sherpa, begins life as a Shorts 360 Airliner. The Shorts Aviation Company is located in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and is one of the oldest aircraft builders in the world. The airplanes are then sent to Clarksburg, West Virginia, where each is remanufactured into an Army Sherpa. The West Virginia Air Center (WVAC) operated by Bombardier Defence Services Inc. provides Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) for the C-23 Sherpa aircraft operated by the United States Army National Guard (USARNG) and the US Air Force. This entails support of 27 C-23B and C-23B+ aircraft located at 19 different bases in the USA, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Additionally, the company provide CLS to the fleet of C-23A aircraft operated by the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base CA.

US Army Aviation Technical Test Center (USAATTC) has a C-23A aircraft which has been modified to acquire various electronic sensor data in support of the Program Executive Officer (PEO) Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Programs. The Sherpa (C-23A) is owned by Aviation Technical Test Center (ATTC), Ft. Rucker, AL. Originally under the sponsorship of PM, Airborne Reconnaissance Low (PM ARL) and currently being transitioned to PM NV/RSTA, it acts as a UAV surrogate for payload testing. The C-23A Sherpa, with its on-board workstation and capability to carry observers, is ideal for real-time evaluations of various sensor and target detection/recognition systems.


Contractor Short Brothers PLC
C-23A Sherpa C-23B Super Sherpa
Power Plant 2 Pratt-Whitney PT6A-45R turboprops 2 Pratt-Whitney PT6A-65AR turboprops
Take-off power
[Sea level static, uninstalled]
1197 shp 1424 shp
Design output shaft speed 1700 rpm 1700 rpm
Speed 218mph at 10,000ft
range 770 miles with 5000lb payload
Span 74ft 8in
length 58ft
height 16ft 3in
Weight Gross 25,500lb max
Accomodations Crew of three
up to 7000lb of freight, including 4 LD3 containers, and engines the size of F100 series
Date Deployed Entered USAF inventory 1984

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Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Saturday, January 09, 1999 7:39:18 AM