Congress directed the Air Force to refrain from decommissioning 32 tactical airlifters this year. The C-130s will be distributed among eight states. (Senior Airman Melissa Sheffield / Air Force)
The congressional mandate for the Air Force to keep 32 additional tactical airlifters will keep a Pennsylvania Reserve base alive and retain 24 more C-130s across all Air Force components.
The 911th Airlift Wing at Pittsburgh, Pa., will retain eight C-130s assigned to the base through 2014, Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., announced Wednesday. The C-130s were originally slated to be cut in fiscal 2013 budget plans. Murphy said in a statement that the decision will affect 1,400 active-duty airmen, reservists, technicians and civilians at the 911th.
The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act created an Intratheater Airlift Working Group to find 32 tactical airlifters to keep through the fiscal year that would be available to assist in the drawdown in Afghanistan. Lt. Gen. Michael Moeller, the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs, briefed Congress Wednesday on the aircraft the Air Force will keep.
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said although the NDAA directed the Air Force to keep the additional aircraft, it did not provide additional funding for their operation, meaning the service will need to find the funding by reducing other programs.
Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said recently that the directive to keep additional tactical airlifters would not reverse Air Force plans to cut all C-27J Spartans.
In addition to Pittsburgh, the Air Force will retain two C-130s at the 109th Airlift Wing in Schenectady, N.Y., and the 139th Airlift wing in St. Joseph, Mo. One C-130 will be kept at each of the following: 123rd Airlift Wing in Louisville, Ky.; 130th Airlift Wing in Charleston, W.Va.; 18th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.; 440th Airlift Wing at Pope Field, N.C.; 910th Airlift Wing at Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio; and 914th Airlift Wing at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y.
The NDAA directed the Air Force to keep 358 total aircraft through fiscal 2013, but the service will keep that limit through 2014 to allow time for additional studies and to address sequestration before the fiscal 2015 budget cycle.
“Although we were required to retain aircraft only through the end of this fiscal year, we extended the aircraft through FY14 to allow time to complete additional analysis and to coordinate with our stakeholders,” Donley said in a release.
For fiscal 2014, the service also will keep eight aircraft that were to be decommissioned from the reserve 934th Airlift Wing at Minneapolis Air Reserve Station. Additionally, the service will retain one aircraft each at Louisville; Charleston; St. Joseph; Niagara Falls; the 136th Airlift Wing in Fort Worth, Texas; the 145th Airlift Wing in Charlotte, N.C.; and the 176th Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
The service said it also will keep additional aircraft to “enhance mission effectiveness.” Those five are at Little Rock, two for the 189th Airlift Wing, two at the 22nd Air Force Detachment 1 and one for the 19th Airlift Wing, along with one each at the 152nd Airlift Wing in Reno, Nev.; the 165th Airlift Wing in Savannah, Ga.; the 166th Airlift Wing in New Castle, Del.; the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill.; and the 302nd Airlift Wing in Colorado Springs, Colo.