The Air Force announced it will retain additional airlift aircraft through fiscal year 2014 in response to a congressional mandate to retain an inventory of 358 intra-theater airlift aircraft. Included in that figure are nine C-130 aircraft belonging to the 914th Airlift Wing, down from the current inventory of 11.
The Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law Jan. 3, included language directing the retention of additional intra-theater airlift aircraft above what was brought back in a previous AF 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 FY14 to allow time to complete additional analysis and to coordinate with our stakeholders," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley.
To develop options to comply with the guidance in the FY13 NDAA, Air Force officials established an Intra-theater Airlift Working Group, or IAWG, comprised of 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 back-up status, and duration of the aircraft we retained," explained Col. James Jacobson, chairman of the Intra-theater Airlift Working Group.
"The AF evaluated numerous criteria," Jacobson said. Among the criteria, the Air Force focused its attention on intra-theater airlift locations still affected by force structure reductions taken as part of the FY13 president's budget and locations that did not receive a backfill mission as part of the USAF total force proposal."
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 FY13 NDAA directive, we retained the aircraft and, in some cases, restored the associated personnel."
The service will reassess force structure during the FY15 budget cycle.