Corbett urges federal government to keep 911th Airlift Wing open

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With another move to close the 911th Airlift Wing possibly coming in March, Gov. Tom Corbett today made a public pitch to save the Moon facility, saying it saves the Air Force money, is well-positioned to aid national security and is an economic engine for the Pittsburgh region.

Mr. Corbett, a 14-year Army National Guard veteran, joined federal and local elected officials in pleading publicly with the Department of Defense to save the base near the Pittsburgh International Airport.

The 911th employs some 1,900 reservists and others but the Air Force is looking to close it as part of plans to trim more than $350 million in costs.

Local officials are trying "to impress upon the Air Force the value of looking at this facility not just in how many people are authorized to be on base but how much do they get done, and how much do they provide to the security of this country and the security of Western Pennsylvania, what missions do they have, what missions do they complete, that you can't measure in dollars and cents, but you can measure in impacts on families being rescued," Mr. Corbett said.

Additionally there is "the potential we have here in Western Pennsylvania, geographically located to be able to cover 70 percent of the United States in basically a two-hour flight. It's better than just about anywhere else in the country."

The base has received $58 million in upgrades the past decade and pays only $20,000 to lease four 10,000-foot runways.

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, claimed the Air Force did not have a full dossier on all the 911th's features and cost-effectiveness.

"Our goal is to get the entire Air Force to look at these numbers and it will require all of our efforts on this, and to look at not only keeping these planes here but also expanding the mission," he said.

The base is home to seven C-130 transport planes. Another is on loan to the Air Force.

U.S. Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey issued a joint letter Wednesday urging the Pentagon to keep the C-130s at the 911th and put off any cuts until a cost-effectiveness study can be performed.

The governor was joined by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and several state legislators from districts near the airport.

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Tim McNulty: tmcnulty@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1581. First Published December 28, 2012 12:45 AM


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