Legislators push for upgrades to C-130 fleet

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN) – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is supporting legislation that would support jobs at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base.

The bipartisan Air Force C-130H Fleet Modernization Act would give the Air Force flexibility to modernize its C-130H fleet, which in Ohio is flown from Youngstown’s 910th Airlift Wing and Mansfield’s 179th Airlift Wing, so it can continue performing national security and emergency response missions without a costly overhaul. To stay in operation, the fleet must be updated by 2020 to meet federal and international standards.

“The C-130H plays a vital role in our nation’s defense and emergency response capabilities and is critical to Ohio jobs,” Brown said. “With more than 260 aircraft currently in operation, and 16 in Ohio, it only makes sense to modernize our existing fleet to ensure it will continue flying for decades to come. That’s why I will continue fighting for the men and women of the Ohio Air National Guard. ”

The C-130H fleet is the U.S. military’s primary combat delivery aircraft, and has provided humanitarian assistance, precision airdrop, and tactical airlift missions across the globe for more than four decades.

While National Guard units in 18 different states fly the aircraft, because of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and international airspace regulatory constraints, the fleet will be largely inoperable unless major upgrades are made by 2020. The proposed bill would allow the Air Force to use a less expensive communication and navigation overhaul without sacrificing safety and effectiveness.

In May, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, pressed the Senate Armed Services Committee in a letter on the need for C-130 modernization and securing important language in the Department of Defense authorization bill to help the C-130 fleet located in Mansfield and Youngstown, according to Portman’s press secretary.

“I have been advocating for a solution to modernize the C-130 fleet and have been working closely with Senate colleagues to develop a long-term solution,” Portman said via email. “It is important that we pass the overdue Defense Authorization bill so that we provide the certainty that Ohio’s air bases need.”

Congressman Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, said he also sent a letter in April to the House Armed Services Committee stressing the importance of the modernization and fielding of the C-130 fleet, which directly impacts the National Guard in Youngstown and Mansfield.

“It is critically important that we maintain the C-130 missions carried out by National Guard units across Ohio. I believe that the Air Force should work to retain capability and capacity within both the active duty and reserve components,” Johnson said via email.

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