by Susan Mikula Campbell
Under President Barack Obama's 2013 budget proposal, the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station would receive $6.1 million for a C-130 simulator, according to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, NY-28.
"It's definitely good news," said Merrell Lane, chairman of the Niagara Military Affairs Council. "Every little bit helps. We're still very concerned obviously about the 107th and their future."
Proposed Department of Defense cuts in the number of C-130 aircraft at the base could leave the 107th (Air National Guard wing) without a mission. NIMAC and local congressional leaders are seeking other options to keep the wing here, such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The addition of a C-130 flight simulator will help solidify the position of the Air Force Reserve's 914th Airlift Wing here. Lane said the simulator would make Niagara Falls the place where C-130 units from throughout the northeast would come and train. NIMAC has been promoting the idea of bringing a simulator here for a number of years, he said.
"Every dollar that we invest into the Niagara Air Base translates into more jobs and economic opportunity for Western New York, which is why I'm so pleased that the president's budget allocates $6.1 million for a new C-130 simulator," said Slaughter. "This facility is expected to bring 400 military personnel and their dependents to our region annually, which is exactly why I have been fighting for this project. This news couldn't come at a better time for the thousands of employees who rely on the Niagara Air Base."
Congresswoman Kathy Hochul, NY-26, said: "This proposal is a victory for Western New York and a positive step in our continued efforts to protect and strengthen the base. By investing in NFARS, the president has indicated that our installation remains a critical component to our national and regional security.
"I applaud Congresswoman Slaughter for her efforts to bring the simulator to the base. While this is a positive development for Western New York and NFARS, I will continue to work with the local delegation to ensure that the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station remains a vital part of both our military and local economy."