Supporters Anxious to Find New Mission for Niagara Falls Air Guard Unit
Officials in western New York are scrambling to find a new mission for one of two units at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, following the Air Force’s recommendation earlier this month to strip the Air National Guard’s 107th Airlift Wing of its three C-130 cargo aircraft.
The move would end the “Reserve association” between that unit and the facility’s 914th Mission Support Group, a Reserve unit which flies the same type of aircraft. As a result, the 107th would be left without a mission, jeopardizing the jobs of 845 personnel, including 580 part-time Guard members.
Elected officials have met with the secretary of the Air Force and the state’s adjutant general to discuss possible replacement missions for the unit.
“We would love to gain missions, particularly with the Air National Guard/Reserve training, with unmanned aircraft and with cyber,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during an Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, reported the Buffalo News.
The Air Force’s proposal to retire or relocate the 107th’s three C-130H aircraft was part of a plan to eliminate 286 aircraft over the next five years, including 227 in fiscal 2013. The proposed force structure changes focused primarily on impacts to the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve and are projected to save $8.7 billion.
At the same time, the plan strengthens the Reserve unit by calling for the replacement of its eight C-130s with newer models in 2017. In addition, the Air Force Reserve intends to locate a $28 million cargo aircraft simulator at the reserve station.