Friday, February 17, 2012

TX ANG To Lose Its C-130s

A rather nasty bombshell has been dropped on Texas in the Pentagon budget cut mess. The 136th Airlift Wing is a Texas ANG C-130 unit, based at NAS Ft. Worth. Under Obama/Panetta's plan, the unit's 8 C-130H transport aircraft will be taken from them and given to the Montana ANG.

The Texas C-130s have served a critical need, being the only medium sized transport aircraft available to cover the Gulf Coast. The aircraft have been instumental in responding to multiple natural disasters - hurricanes, floods, fires, etc. The C-130's size is perfect for this type of work, giving the ability of transporting large numbers of people and supplies into small airfields. None of the other Gulf Coast states have this type of asset, and Texas has repeatedly helped its neighbor states by providing these aircraft to support their needs.

In addition, the 136th has been in the rotation, supplying aircraft and crew to support overseas USAF operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, its primary focus is supporting the people of the State of Texas and its neighbors in fighting natural disasters, under control of the Governor.

When these aircraft leave, the nearest available asset of this type will be in Arkansas.

The move is a political one. The Montana ANG has a single unit, serving as Air Defense at Great Falls IAP, with F-15 Eagles. The Eagles are due for retirement. Rather than kill off the unit or turn it into a drone support unit, someone has pushed to strip aircraft from somewhere else. Texas is on the Obama Administration's black list, so why not from there? What natural disasters are these C-130s going to be positioned to repond to in Montana?

If this plan is allowed to go through, the 136th will become a Recon wing, gaining a handful of MC-12W aircraft. These are used as passive video and signal intelligence platforms. These could potential be used along the Texas/Mexico border IF anyone in Washington gets serious about border control, but would be useless for anything else. Why not give those aircraft to Montana, and leave the C-130s here where they will actually do some good?

Photo - C-130H 85-1366, 181AS 136AW, TX ANG, NAS Ft. Worth. Photo by yours truly.

Update - After the Governors of all the Gulf Coast States wrote to the Pentagon, upset with this plan and asking that the planes be left in place to respond to natural disasters, it appears that the USAF is reconsidering the plan. No word on when a final decision might be made.

Update - On Aug.2, the Senate Appropriations Committee deleted funding for the move of these aircraft from the Defense Budget, effectively killing any such move for at least another year.  Apparently all the lobbying and pleading from the Gulf Coast states was enough to stop this stupid proposed move.  I am not aware of anyone who made an argumenent in favor of the proposal.

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