WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – co-chair of the Senate Air Force Caucus – joined a bipartisan group of Senators to call on the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to increase investment in C-130J planes as he continues to highlight the need to upgrade the C-130H planes flown at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS). The letter urges the DoD to abandon proposed cuts to the program and instead invest in more C-130J planes as a long-term, cost-saving measure.
The Senators’ letter points to savings of more than 10 percent per aircraft over the course of the DoD’s current procurement program to invest in C-130J planes.
“By design, the C-130J provides significant operational and support savings, more operational capability per aircraft, lower life-cycle costs, common logistics and training support, and improved active duty and air reserve component interoperability,” the Senators wrote.
In meetings this year with U.S. Secretary of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Air Force Secretary Dr. Heather Wilson, Brown highlighted the need to upgrade the C-130H planes flown at YARS.
Last December, Brown and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced the inclusion of their amendment to prioritize the C-130 upgrades at YARS in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was signed into law by President Obama. The law will encourage the Air Force to act on these upgrades by requiring it to report on how it will prioritize upgrades from C-130H aircrafts to new C-130J units for wings that fly specialty missions, like the 910th at YARS.
In December 2015, Brown and Portman wrote a letter with U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Bill Johnson (R-OH-6), and Dave Joyce (R-OH-14) urging the United States Air Force to replace the 910th Airlift Wing’s current fleet of C-130H aircraft with new C-130J aircrafts to ensure that the 910th’s Department of Defense (DoD)-mandated specialized aerial spray mission continues safely and without interruption.
Full text of Brown’s letter to the DoD can be found below:
Dear Under Secretary Lord,
We are writing to encourage the Department of Defense to consider a follow-on Multi-Year Procurement Program for the C-130J program. The current C-130J MYPII for FY14-18 has been a remarkable success. The MYPII resulted in validated DOD savings of greater than 10 percent per aircraft, and greater than $600 million over more than 80 C-130J aircraft.
We were disappointed to see that last year’s sequestration-constrained budget plans for FY19-23 projected drastic cuts to annual C-130J purchases that we feel could threaten the future of the only remaining active U.S. airlifter production line.
The C-130J is the longest continuously-running military production line in history. The current C-130J variant is the most capable tactical airlifter in the world. C-130J production is currently at a healthy rate of 24 aircraft per year, which includes 16 DOD aircraft per year. Last year’s forecasts suggest that future DOD procurement for FY19 and beyond would drop to approximately 7-8 aircraft per year. We are concerned that such a significant drop in production could increase C-130J pricing and undermine the only active tactical airlifter production line.
The DOD has validated requirements for additional C-130Js that would be appropriate candidates for a follow-on MYP. This does not include any potential future recapitalization of 150 legacy C-130H aircraft currently flying in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. While the USAF, AFSOC, USMC, USCG, and others have embraced full fleet recapitalization with C-130J models, the proven concepts of proportional and concurrent fielding of C-130Js in the Air National Guard and USAF Reserve fleets appear to have been abandoned.
By design, the C-130J provides significant operational and support savings, more operational capability per aircraft, lower life-cycle costs, common logistics and training support, and improved active duty and air reserve component interoperability.
With those facts in mind, we respectfully urge the Department reassess its previous constraints-driven projections for FY19-23 for C-130J variants during the annual budget process, and return to a needs and strategy-driven request for C-130Js going forward. Further, in a resource-constrained environment, we request you consider an additional Multi-Year Procurement program, with accelerated buys to more sustainable quantities per year in the FY19-23 time frame, to realize cost savings and maintain the health of the industrial base.
We look forward to your response.