Airbase looks toward delivery of C-130Js
Area’s new senator says he’ll make sure Ohio ‘continues strong military tradition’
VIENNA — A routine environmental assessment is all that is needed before the Youngstown Air Reserve Station officially gets awarded eight new C-130J Super Hercules aircrafts, the base commander said.
“There’s only one last hurdle,” said Col. Jeffrey Van Dootingh, commander of the 910th Airlift Wing at the Vienna base, about the assessment during a Tuesday news conference with U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance.
That environmental assessment, which primarily looks at the impact the planes will have on the local community, such as noise, will be done in the late spring or early summer, Van Dootingh said.
“Generally speaking, those are passed with flying colors,” he said. “I don’t anticipate that there will be any snags with that so we are fully moving ahead with the transition to the J models. In fact, our headquarters will be out here next month for a meeting with us to sort of lay out how we’re going to transition.”
Final approval will come “very shortly” after the assessment, Van Dootingh said.
“That’s the only square left to be filled,” he said.
The planes already have a delivery schedule, showing “how confident we are that this transition will occur,” Van Dootingh said.
The base will get two planes about a year from now: one for air crew training and the other for mechanics to learn how to service them, he said.
“The other six will come over the next 14 months,” he said.
It was announced Dec. 22 that YARS was selected as the preferred location for the new C-130Js, which will replace the nine older C-130H planes at the air base.
The planes cost about $1 billion in total.
The C-130J reduces manpower requirements, lowers operating and support costs and provides life-cycle cost savings over earlier C-130 models, according to the Air Force. They also are capable of climbing faster and higher, flying farther at a higher cruise speed, and taking off and landing in a shorter distance.
YARS currently has nine C-130H planes that are from 1989 to 1992 with one of those planes not used regularly as part of the inventory. It had four other C-130H planes moved to other bases in 2013.
Like about 100 older C-130 planes, the ones at YARS have been grounded since late September because of issues with their propeller assembly. One plane at YARS has been serviced for the issue while the others await parts.
Vance, who visited the air base for the first time Tuesday, said getting the new planes is “a very, very good thing for the base, a very good thing for the region and it just requires some support from the federal government.”
Vance, R-Cincinnati, beat former U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Howland Democrat whose district for 20 years included the air base, in last November’s Senate race.
When he was vice chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Ryan was instrumental in leading the Ohio congressional delegation in passing legislation to get the new planes to YARS.
Asked about Ryan’s involvement, Vance said: “The congressional delegation was very influential so I give him a lot of credit for being a big part of that and obviously making sure … it’s going to be a big part of the Air Force’s mission going forward.”
Vance, who was sworn in Jan. 3 to the Senate, visited YARS a day after touring the Ohio National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing in the Toledo area.
“I want to make sure that Ohio continues to be a place that has a strong military tradition,” he said.
Regarding YARS, Vance, a Marine Corps veteran, said: “I care a lot about the economic impact of the base to the region, but also care about the national security. Both are important and both are worth fighting for.”
The air base in Vienna is Trumbull County’s largest employer and the third largest in the Mahoning Valley. The base has about 2,000 employees, most of them reservists and active duty and an annual economic impact of about $150 million.
The base is home to the 910th Airlift Wing, the U.S. Department of Defense’s only large-area fixed-wing aerial spray unit. It controls disease-carrying insects, pests and undesirable vegetation as well as dispersing oil spills in large bodies of water.