The Cessna UC-35 is one of the most common aircraft in the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) fleet. The UC-35 has become part of the furniture when it comes to military missions, having played a crucial role within various branches of the U.S. military for almost four decades. 

The Cessna UC-35 has a rich history, but what does the future hold for this two-pilot jet? In this article, we’ll take a look at where the UC-35 came from, and where it’s headed. We’ll discuss: 

  1. The historical context of the Cessna UC-35
  2. Cessna UC-35 operators
  3. Current military uses of the Cessna UC-35
  4. The future of the Cessna UC-35 within the U.S. military
  5. Why Greenwood Aerospace is your trusted provider for UC-35 sustainment

At Greenwood Aerospace, we specialize in aircraft sustainment services for a large number of fixed-wing aircraft, including the Cessna UC-35. Whether you need replacement aircraft parts and accessories for your fleet, ground support, or supply chain management, we’re here to help! 

Contact us today to discuss your program’s specific needs, or request a quote to learn more.

In the meantime, join us as we discuss the Cessna UC-35, from its maiden flight to the future of this ever-reliable aircraft.

Historical Context of the Cessna UC-35

The story of the Cessna UC-35 aircraft is interwoven with the legacy of the Cessna Aircraft Company, spanning decades of pioneering innovation and commitment to aviation excellence. Let’s start by touching on: 

  1. The Cessna Aircraft Company
  2. UC-35 design and development
  3. Technical specs of the UC-35
  4. Cessna UC-35 variants

Here’s a look at the basics of the UC-35, where it came from, and what led to the development of an aircraft that’s truly carved a role for itself within the U.S. military.

Cessna Aircraft Company

Founded in 1927 by Clyde Cessna, the Cessna Aircraft Company has etched its name in the annals of aviation history as one of the most influential and prolific aircraft manufacturers. Initially recognized for its small, single-engine fixed-wing aviation aircraft and business jets, Cessna later expanded its portfolio to cater to military demands, leveraging its expertise in design and manufacturing to deliver aircraft tailored to specific military requisites. 

Cessna's commitment to innovation and adaptability led to the development of a range of aircraft that usually exceeded expectations. The company's reputation for safety, reliability, and performance laid the groundwork for the evolution of the UC-35 and its predecessors. 

Cessna is also revered for its commitment to customer care, offering a range of support services including maintenance and repair, training, and even financing. A huge, global network of authorized service centers makes Cessna aircraft relatively easy to maintain, ensuring Cessna upholds its reputation as a mainstay in the aviation industry for years to come. 

Cessna UC-35 Design and Development

Like many aircraft before it, the Cessna UC-35 is a militarized variant of a standard commercial off-the-shelf aircraft. In this case, the famous Cessna Citation V was modified to provide the U.S. military with a cost-effective, reliable, and flexible platform for various missions, predominantly executive transport.

The Cessna Citation V is basically an upgraded version of the Cessna Citation II, with most of the changes relating to the aircraft’s engine. The Citation V is built with a more powerful engine than the Citation II, increasing its performance and payload capacity while sacrificing some overall range compared to the Citation II. The Citation V’s first flight was in 1987, with thousands of these aircraft being produced until 1994. Since then, the Citation Ultra and Citation Encore/Encore+ have taken over.

Sometimes, off-the-shelf aircraft are heavily modified when military variants are produced. However, this was not the case for the UC-35, which remains almost identical to the original Cessna Citation V.

UC-35 Specs

The UC-35 embodies a blend of performance, efficiency, and adaptability. With its twin-engine configuration and impressive speed capabilities, it boasts a range that allows it to swiftly cover long distances. The specs of this aircraft include: 

  • Wingspan: 53 feet
  • Length: 48 feet
  • Height: 14 feet
  • Maximum gross takeoff weight: 16,000 pounds
  • Maximum speed: 507 mph (440 knots)
  • Maximum altitude: 45,000 feet
  • Range: Approximately 2,000 nautical miles
  • Cargo capacity: 3,500 pounds

Equipped with advanced, modern avionics and communication systems, including a digital autopilot, weather radar, and GPS, this aircraft ensures operational efficiency and situational awareness, vital for military missions requiring precision and rapid response in varying weather conditions.

Cessna UC-35 Variants

The Cessna Citation, the original commercial version of the UC-35, has several civilian variants: 

  1. The Model 560 Citation V, the original iteration of this aircraft
  2. The Model 560 Citation Ultra, an improved version of the Citation V
  3. The Model 560 Citation Encore, an upgraded Citation Ultra, produced from the year 2000
  4. The Model 560 Citation Encore+, an upgraded Encore produced from 2006 onwards

The Cessna UC-35, the military version of the Citation, also has several variants: 

  1. The UC-35A, an identical version of the Citation Ultra
  2. The UC-35B, a U.S. Army transport equivalent of the Citation Encore
  3. The UC-35C, a transport version of the Citation Ultra
  4. The UC-35D, a transport version of the Citation Encore

In addition to these aircraft, the U.S. Department of Defense also operates an OT-47B Tracker, a version of the Citation Ultra, used primarily for drug interdiction reconnaissance

Cessna UC-35 Operators 

The global footprint of the Cessna UC-35 extends far beyond national borders, marking its presence not only within the U.S. military but also among international operators. Let’s take a quick look at the various UC-35 operators, as well as the broader utilization of the Citation V family.

U.S. Operators

Within the United States, the UC-35 serves as a crucial asset for various branches of the military. Primarily operated by the U.S. Army and Air Force, this aircraft fulfills an array of missions, including transport, medical evacuation, reconnaissance, and logistical support. Its agility and adaptability make it a preferred choice for meeting the multifaceted demands of military operations across different theaters.

Specifically, the U.S. Army operates UC-35A and UC-35B aircraft, while the U.S. Air Force operates the UC-35A only. The U.S. Marine Corps operates both the UC-35C (two aircraft) and UC-35D (11 aircraft). The U.S. Army is the most prolific user of the UC-35, with 27 total aircraft believed to be in service currently. 

Overseas Operators

Beyond U.S. borders, the Cessna UC-35 has found favor with various international military forces and government agencies. Nations such as: 

  • Colombia
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Spain

have incorporated the UC-35 into their fleets, leveraging its capabilities for missions aligning with their respective defense strategies. The aircraft's versatility and reliability have made it an attractive choice for diverse operational requirements across different continents.

Other Citation V Operators

While the UC-35 represents a specialized variant tailored for military applications, its lineage within the Citation V family creates a network of operators encompassing various sectors beyond the military. Civilian entities, corporate users, private individuals, charter operators, aircraft management companies, and air ambulance services worldwide have embraced different versions of the Citation V, which shares core design elements with the UC-35.

A Cessna Citation V air ambulance on a runway
Image Source

Current Military Uses of the Cessna UC-35

The versatility and adaptability of the Cessna UC-35 make it suitable for a wide variety of roles. Over the years, this aircraft has played a part in: 

  • Executive transport
  • Operational support
  • Medevac
  • Cargo transport

Let’s explore how the UC-35 has been used by various branches of the U.S. military to date. 

Executive Transport

The primary role of the Cessna UC-35 is executive transport. This aircraft serves as a reliable mode of transport for high-ranking military officials, offering rapid and secure travel options. Its efficiency in covering moderate distances swiftly, coupled with its capability to land at smaller airfields, provides a suitable, comfortable means of transportation for commanders and officials. The aircraft seats eight passengers in its standard seating configuration. 

Operational support

While primarily used for executive transport, the U.S. Army has also used UC-35s as a core factor in its Operational Support Aircraft (OSA) fleet for more than three decades. The Joint Operational Support Airlift Center (JOSAC) is the airlift branch of TRANSCOM. JOSAC specializes in airlift within the continental United States, and schedules aircraft assigned to the U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and Reserve, Army National Guard and Army Reserves, and the U.S. Marines.

Located at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, 80 units in the USA offer aircraft for JOSAC, providing a fleet of approximately 130 total aircraft. Along with the UC-35, other operational support aircraft include the Learjet C-21A, the C-12 Huron, and the C-26A Metroliner.


The UC-35's adaptability extends to medical evacuation missions, where its rapid response capabilities and ability to access remote or austere locations prove invaluable. Equipped to swiftly convert from a standard configuration to a medical transport setup, it facilitates the timely evacuation of injured personnel, enhancing the chances of survival and recovery.

Its deployment in medevac roles exemplifies its humanitarian aspect within military operations, emphasizing the aircraft's pivotal role in saving lives during critical situations. It can be fully equipped with a medical evacuation kit and can transport up to four patients on stretchers, or eight mobile patients able to walk. 

Cargo Transport

Beyond personnel transport, the UC-35 contributes significantly to logistical operations by facilitating the movement of vital cargo and supplies. Its cargo transport capabilities, though more limited in capacity compared to larger aircraft, enable it to efficiently transport essential equipment, small-scale cargo, or urgent supplies to remote or inaccessible areas.

This role in cargo transport enhances the military's ability to sustain operations in diverse terrains and austere environments, ensuring a steady flow of essential resources. The UC-35 can be specially configured for cargo transportation, and has a maximum cargo capacity of 3,500 pounds. 

The UC-35 as a C-12 Huron Replacement

Although the UC-35 is by no means a new aircraft, the military’s fleet is younger than that of the aging C-12 Hurons, which have been in service for almost 50 incredible years. The C-12 Huron still performs a majority of the U.S. Army’s executive transport and OSA operations, the UC-35 has taken over some of these roles in recent years.

In particular, the Cessna UC-35 is often preferred over the C-12 Huron when it comes to longer-distance executive transport. The UC-35 offers a faster option for military executives, and has a longer range compared to its older counterpart. The UC-35 can travel nearly 2,000 nautical miles comfortably, making it a great choice for efficient coast-to-coast transport. 

Although the UC-35 has taken over some of these roles from the C-12 Huron, the C-12s aren’t showing any signs of slowing down, and there appear to be no formal or public plans to replace this aging fleet. 

A U.S. Air Force C-12 Huron in flight
Image Source

The Future of the Cessna UC-35

The horizon of military aviation is continuously shaped by technological advancements, evolving operational needs, and the quest for enhanced capabilities. As the Cessna UC-35 navigates this dynamic landscape, the future unfolds with a blend of retirements, potential replacements, and adaptations geared toward extending its operational reach and effectiveness. Here’s what we know so far about the future of the Cessna UC-35. 

Retirements of UC-35s

Within the U.S. military, discussions surrounding the phased retirement of older UC-35s are underway. As part of a modernization initiative aimed at optimizing the fleet's composition, older models might undergo decommissioning to make way for more advanced iterations or alternative platforms that better align with the evolving technological and operational standards.

Specific units or versions of the UC-35 nearing the end of their service life might be gradually phased out, making room for enhanced variants or entirely different aircraft capable of meeting future military demands more efficiently. Recently, the Marine Corps retired its two UC-35 OSA jets, placing the aircraft in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. 

Is the Cessna UC-35 Being Replaced?

While discussions about retirement loom, the question of whether the Cessna UC-35 is being replaced remains pertinent. The evolving military landscape necessitates a reevaluation of aircraft capabilities and adaptability to meet emerging threats and operational requirements. In this context, ongoing assessments consider potential replacements or complementary platforms that can offer enhanced performance and technological advancements.

Proposals for replacements might involve aircraft models showcasing superior capabilities in areas such as range, payload capacity, avionics, or mission-specific adaptations. However, the UC-35's proven track record and adaptability may position it to coexist alongside or transition into newer variants or platforms rather than face outright replacement. To date, there appear to be no formal plans to replace the Cessna UC-35s operating within the U.S. Army’s aircraft inventory.

UC-35 Extended Range (UC-35ER)

An intriguing aspect shaping the future of the UC-35 is the concept of an Extended Range variant. The UC-35ER, intended to address the need for increased operational reach and endurance, proposes enhancements in range and performance metrics. 

By integrating advanced fuel systems, improved engines, or aerodynamic modifications, this variant aims to extend the aircraft's operational capabilities, enabling it to cover longer distances and operate in more diverse environments. The UC-35ER's development represents an evolutionary step, leveraging technological advancements to transform the aircraft into a more potent and versatile asset within the military aviation domain.

At this stage, it’s unclear whether the UC-35ER will be a novel aircraft, based on the existing UC-35s, or whether UC-35 aircraft currently in service will be fitted with upgrades that will improve their range, and possibly other elements of performance. 

Trust Greenwood Aerospace With Cessna UC-35 Aircraft Sustainment

When it comes to aircraft sustainment and support, Greenwood Aerospace provides reliability and expertise. With more than four decades of experience, a dedicated commitment to excellence, and a deep understanding of the intricacies of aircraft maintenance, we offer a comprehensive suite of services specifically tailored to ensure the continued operational readiness and longevity of your Cessna UC-35 aircraft.

Our Cessna UC-35 Services

We offer specialized services designed to cater to the unique needs of UC-35s. If you’re in need of replacement components for your UC-35s, Greenwood Aerospace is your first choice to procure parts, establish supply chains, and ship components for your Citation Ultra, Encore, or UC-35 fleet. To learn more, contact our team or start a quote today!

Other Services From Greenwood Aerospace

As well as aircraft sustainment, parts procurement, supply chain management, and aircraft parts storage for your UC-35s, we offer a number of other aviation and aerospace services, including: 

Greenwood Aerospace is the preferred supplier of some of the largest defense contractors, military branches, and government agencies in the United States. 

Contact us today to learn how Greenwood Aerospace can help your program. 

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