$300 million could buy four C-130J aircraft


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By DAVID SKOLNICK

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is optimistic $300 million to purchase four C-130J aircraft in a spending package approved by the House Appropriations Committee will land at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna.

“Youngstown is in a really good position to get these planes,” Ryan of Howland, D-13th, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said Tuesday. “We are super excited about the opportunity out at the air base for these new C-130Js.”

The bill still needs approval from the full House and then the U.S. Senate. Passage could take until the fall, Ryan said.

The Air Force makes the decision on what reserve base the state-of-the-art C-130J planes will go, but Ryan said he put the provision in the bill for the planes with the plan to have them go to the Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

The Vienna location is the military’s only large-area fixed-wing aerial spray unit: the 910th Airlift Wing.

The facility had 12 C-130H planes until four were moved to other military bases in 2013. The existing planes at the base are from 1989 and 1990.

Ryan and others – including U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, and Rob Portman, a Cincinnati-area Republican – have pushed for years to get the Air Force to put new C-130Js at the base.

“Any time you add new planes there’s going to be a lot of people who are going to try to get them, but, like I said, we’ve been working this for many, many years now and positioning our base,” Ryan said. “We’re at the top of the list for these new planes that would go to the Air Force Reserve. I put the money in for planes for the Air Force Reserves. We’re pretty confident.”

Ryan said he wasn’t sure if the planes – should they be awarded to the local base – would be additions or replacements to the eight C-130Hs there. He said it would take a couple of years for the planes to be built.

Also in the bill that passed the committee is $20 million for additive manufacturing at the U.S. Department of Defense that Ryan said could help fund America Makes – National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in downtown Youngstown, and $10 million for the DOD’s technology transition program that could help fund the Tech Belt Innovation Center in downtown Warren, Ryan said.

“America Makes is definitely going to benefit from this,” he said.

Also in a separate appropriations bill approved Tuesday by the committee is $2 million to clean rivers of downed trees and other obstructions. Ryan said that money could be used for the Mahoning River between Newton Falls and Warren, he said.

“We’ve been trying to get this Mahoning River cleaned up for a long time,” Ryan said.

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