The Air Force announced it will retain additional airlift aircraft through fiscal 2014 in response to a congressional mandate to retain an inventory of 358 intratheater airlift aircraft.
The Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act signed into law Jan. 3, 2013, included language directing the retention of additional intratheater airlift aircraft above what was brought back in a previous Air Force proposal submitted in November of 2012.
“Although we were required to retain aircraft only through the end of this fiscal year, we extended the aircraft through fiscal 2014 to allow time to complete additional analysis and to coordinate with our stakeholders,” said Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley.
To develop options to comply with the guidance in the fiscal 2013 NDAA, Air Force officials established an Intratheater Airlift Working Group comprises members from the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Air Mobility Command and Headquarters Air Force.
“The task of the IAWG was to provide the secretary of the Air Force with recommendations for the locations, numbers, primary or backup status and duration of the aircraft we retained,” said Col. James Jacobson, the chairman of the Intratheater Airlift Working Group. “The Air Force evaluated numerous criteria. Among the criteria, the Air Force focused its attention on intratheater airlift locations still affected by force structure reductions taken as part of the fiscal year 2013 president’s budget and locations that did not receive a backfill mission as part of the Air Force Total Force Proposal.”
In fiscal 2013, the Air Force will restore the 911th Airlift Wing (Air Force Reserve) to a size of eight primary assigned aircraft and associated personnel at Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station. These aircraft will be retained through fiscal 14.
In addition to the actions at the Pittsburgh wing, the Air Force retained aircraft through fiscal 14 at the multiple locations. The following aircraft will be backup aircraft:
- Two aircraft at the 109th Airlift Wing, Schenectady, N.Y.
- One aircraft at the 123rd Airlift Wing, Louisville, Ky.
- One aircraft at the 130th Airlift Wing, Charleston, W. Va.
- Two aircraft at the 139th Airlift Wing, St Joseph, Mo.
- One aircraft at the 189th Airlift Wing, Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.
- One aircraft at the 440th Airlift Wing, Pope Field, N.C.
- One aircraft at the 910th Airlift Wing, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio
- One aircraft at the 914th Airlift Wing, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y.
While the fiscal 13 NDAA directed the Air Force maintain a floor of 358 aircraft only for fiscal 2013, the Air Force elected to voluntarily extend the floor through fiscal 2014. Extending the 358 floor through 2014, allows the Air Force to complete additional studies, readdress force structure needs with its stakeholders and allow for resolution of sequestration before the Air Force reassesses its force structure during the fiscal 2015 budget cycle.
In 2014, the Air Force also elected to restore the 934th Airlift Wing (AF Reserve) and its 8 primary aircraft and associated personnel at Minneapolis ARS.
In addition to actions at the Minneapolis wing, the Air Force retained aircraft at multiple locations. These following aircraft will be backup aircraft.
- One aircraft at the 123rd AW
- One aircraft at the 130th AW
- One aircraft at the 136th Airlift Wing, Fort Worth, Texas
- One aircraft at the 139th AW
- One aircraft at the 145th Airlift Wing, Charlotte N.C.
- One aircraft at the 176th Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
- One aircraft at the 914th AW
Finally, in addition to the aircraft allocated to units affected by president’s 2013 budget, the Air Force also added aircraft to enhance mission effectiveness. The following aircraft will also be back-up aircraft:
- Two aircraft to 22nd Air Force Det. 1, Little Rock AFB
- One aircraft to 19th Airlift Wing, Little Rock AFB
- One aircraft to 152nd Airlift Wing, Reno, Nev.
- One aircraft to 165th Airlift Wing, Savannah, Ga.
- One aircraft to 166th Airlift Wing, New Castle, Del.
- One aircraft to 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, Ill.
- Two aircraft to 189th Airlift Wing, Little Rock AFB
- One aircraft to 302nd Airlift Wing, Colorado Springs, Colo.
But, leaders pointed out that none of the aircraft are newly acquired. “These aircraft were all scheduled to be retired in 2013 and 2014,” said Jacobson. “So, to meet the fiscal year 2013 NDAA directive, we retained the aircraft and, in some cases, restored the associated personnel.”
The service will reassess force structure during the fiscal 2015 budget cycle.