Friday, October 02, 2015

TOP STORY >> C-130Js stay at Keesler in 2016 budget

Leader senior staff writer

Second District Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) did not get 10 C-130Js transferred to Little Rock Air Force Base from Keesler AFB, as he wanted, in the $611.8 billion 2016 national defense authorization bill agreed on by the House-Senate Joint Conference Committee and passed by the House this week.

Plans for Kessler’s C-130Js have changed several times over the past few budgets, but location of the planes has not.

Hill said Wednesday he was pleased with several other aspects of the bill, which must now be passed by the Senate and signed by the president.


“However, I am disappointed that my amendment to conduct a business- case analysis on the Air Force’s decision to maintain 10 C-130J aircraft at Keesler Air Force Base

was not included. One year ago, Air Force officials highlighted the importance of Little Rock Air Force Base and the cost savings and efficiencies that would be realized by relocating these aircraft to LRAFB, which is one of the most technologically advanced and well-run military installations in the entire country and is a center of excellence for our global airlift operations,” Hill said.

“Although I disagree with this decision, I will continue my work to ensure that LRAFB maintains its airlift capabilities, which are so essential to our entire military,” Hill continued.

Hill told The Leader on Friday he’s hopeful LRAFB can eventually get the planes from Keesler, especially after new leadership in the House is chosen.

The Air Force has a $41 billion procurement budget, which includes about $15.7 billion for aircraft, $2.99 billion for missiles, $2.6 billion for space, $1.75 billion for ammunition and, for other procurement, $18.3 billion.

Language in the bill makes it difficult to transfer any C-130H from one facility to another, or to retire or prepare to retire any C-130Hs or to close any C-130H for at least 90 days following such a decision by the Air Force chief of staff and others.

It appears that at least $75 million has been allocated for C-130H avionics modernization to enable the older planes to keep flying when new air- space regulations overseas and in established U.S. air corridors take effect.

Of the $611.8 billion defense budget, $515 billion is the main budget, with $89.2 billion in “overseas contingency operations” and another $7.6 billion in defense mandatory spending.

“The FY 2016 NDAA will increase accountability for taxpayer dollars being spent on training forces in Syria, provide funding to enhance our cyber warfare capabilities, and give crucial funding to assist the Ukrainian military,” Hill said.

“This bill also authorizes additional funds to be used for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account and accelerates the Blackhawk helicopter modernization plan, which is critical to our Army National Guard Aviation Units,” Hill said.


“I am particularly pleased with the NDAA’s reauthorization of the prohibitions against transferring of Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) detainees to the United States. Last week, I visited GTMO and saw firsthand this safe and secure facility that holds the world’s most notorious agents of terror, and we must ensure its utilization in our ongoing fight against terrorism,” the congressman said.