YARS’ C-130H aircraft need to be either updated or replaced with new C-130J models
U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman announced Tuesday that the Senate passed their joint amendment to the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act to strengthen the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and its mission capabilities.
Specifically, the amendment directs the Air Force to report on how it will prioritize upgrades to provide new C-130J aircraft for facilities that include special mission units, such as aerial spray, airborne firefighting and weather reconnaissance.
The 910th is the Department of Defense’s only large-area, fixed-wing aerial spray unit.
Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, and Portman, a Cincinnati-area Republican, have been urging the Air Force to replace YARS’ 910th Airlift Wing’s fleet of C-130H aircraft with new C-130J aircraft to ensure that the 910th’s DOD-mandated specialized aerial spray mission continues safely and without interruption.
The senators, along with U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, and David Joyce of Russell, R-14th, in December 2015 made the request for the upgrade in a letter to Lt. Gen. James Jackson, the chief of the Air Force Reserve.
“Bringing in C-130Js to modernize the C-130 fleet at YARS will help strengthen our lines of defense and maintain jobs in the Mahoning Valley,” Brown said.
“This fleet carries out critical emergency missions and keeps our nation secure. It’s time to replace these aircraft to meet the unique mission at YARS,” he said.
“The Air Force should prioritize special mission units like the 910th when deciding where to station C-130Js, and I will continue to urge that the Air Force modernize the C-130H fleet throughout Ohio,” Brown said.
If YARS does not receive C-130J aircraft, in order to keep its C-130H aircraft flying, it will be necessary to update critical flight navigation and communication components on the C-130H to meet new Federal Aviation Administration and international airspace regulatory constraints.
If the updates are not made by 2020, the C-130 Legacy aircraft will be largely inoperable, Air Force Col. James Dignan, commander of the 910th and the YARS installation, said previously.
“The soonest the updates could occur is 2017, should money become available,” Dignan said at the time.
Either receiving C-130Js or upgrades need to happen in the near future to keep YARS and the 910th mission ready, he said.