Monday, May 14, 2012

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Defense Spending Bill Includes Provision To Keep Air Guard Jets

Defense News: DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Defense Spending Bill Includes Provision To Keep Air Guard Jets
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources by William Petroski
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 14, 2012: A defense spending bill proposed Monday in the U.S. House would block the Air Force from eliminating F-16 aircraft at the 132nd Fighter Wing in Des Moines until a cost-benefit analysis can be completed.
U.S. Rep. Tom Latham said the legislation would freeze the proposed retirement of Air Force aircraft, including the Iowa Air National Guard’s F-16s. The bill would require the Air Force to finish the cost-benefit study by October, with a review by the nonpartisan General Accounting Office within 120 days of its completion.

The bill is sponsored by the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee, on which Latham serves. The Iowa Republican said he believes a review will ultimately show the 132nd Fighter Wing operates cost-effectively and should continue flying F-16 combat aircraft over the long term. He called Monday’s action a major step forward.

“This is a great victory, and we are going to fight to save the 132nd Fighter Wing,” Latham said in a phone interview from Washington, D.C.

The Air Force has proposed budget cuts that include eliminating all 21 of the Iowa unit’s F-16 aircraft, replacing them with a smaller unit based in Des Moines that would remotely control unmanned aircraft that would be flown elsewhere, such as Afghanistan.

The proposal would eliminate 378 people now serving with the 132nd Fighter Wing, including 81 full-time employees. The unit currently has about 1,000 airmen.

The provision affecting the Des Moines unit is within a subcommittee draft for the fiscal year 2013 defense appropriations bill, which will be considered today.

The measure includes $589 million to “pause” retirements of Guard and Reserve aircraft to allow time for more analysis of the plans.

Latham said he expects to vote in favor of the bill when it reaches the full committee, possibly as soon as next week.

He believes the measure could be passed by the full House of Representatives within the next few weeks. The proposal would then be considered by the Senate.

“I have not talked with the Senate side, but we will be making a strong case with them,” Latham said. “The House position will be very strong.”

In defending the 132nd Fighter Wing, Iowa National Guard officials have noted it has been recognized as one of the top units in the Air National Guard. In addition, Air Guard units operate at about 30 percent of the taxpayer expense when compared to active-duty Air Force units, officials said.

About 270 airmen from the Des Moines-based wing recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.

“I think there is no question that we can show that it costs much less to maintain readiness with the Guard wing than on the active-duty side,” Latham said.

“We have tremendously experienced pilots and maintenance people that would be lost with the closing. I think a true cost-benefit analysis will justify us maintaining the 132nd Fighter Wing in Des Moines.”

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources by  William Petroski
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

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