The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a measure by North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis that Tillis said would keep C130H aircraft at Fort Bragg’s Pope Airfield even if the Air Force goes ahead with plans to inactivate the 440th Airlift Wing.
Tillis in a statement said that the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would move nine upgraded C-130H aircraft to Pope Airfield at Fort Bragg. They would replace the six aircraft that the Air Force plans to remove, Tillis said.
The Air Force plans to inactivate the air wing as a budget-saving move. The 440th Air Wing, which supports global response and special operations units, is staffed by more than 1,000 Reservists.
“I am pleased that my Senate colleagues and I found a solution that would not only save, but increase and improve the C-130H presence at Fort Bragg, effectively stopping the Air Force leadership’s short-sighted and strategically flawed plan to remove all C-130Hs from Pope Airfield,” Tillis said in a statement.
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Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., was one of the amendment’s co-sponsors.
“I am tremendously pleased that Pope Army Airfield at Fort Bragg will remain the premier training ground for our nation’s combat ready paratroopers. They are the tip of the spear for our intelligence and special operations communities, Burr said in a statement. “Adding this amendment to the final Defense authorization bill ensures modernized aircraft will not be disposed of, but will instead fulfill their military purpose by directly contributing to the training and readiness of our airborne and special operations troops.”
The amendment’s outcome isn’t certain. The Senate hasn’t voted yet on the National Defense Authorization Act. If it does vote and the bill passes, a conference committee that will merge the House and Senate versions would have to approve the C130H amendment.
Tillis said the Air Force planned to get rid of five upgraded C-130H aircraft now based at Little Rock that will be moved to Fort Bragg under his plan instead. He said using the aircraft in North Carolina would save taxpayers $300 million. Four other C-130s will be upgrade with previously purchased kits and also transferred to the base.