Sen. Bob Casey, with Rochelle Stachel and Charles "Chip" Holsworth, holds a news conference Thursday at the Allegheny County Courthouse to discuss his recent letter supporting the continued operation of the 911th Airlift Wing.
By Torsten Ove / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sen. Bob Casey released a letter Thursday asking that the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon be spared from future attempts to shut it down.
The letter to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force says the 911th is efficient and effective, the same argument Mr. Casey, D-Pa., and other local politicians have been making for years.
The commission is expected to present a report to the president next week with recommendations for modifying Air Force assets nationwide that could include proposals for the 911th.
Sen. Bob Casey makes case for preserving 911th
Sen. Bob Casey, appearing at a new conference, unveiled a letter to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force that makes the strategic and economic case for the 911th Airlift Wing. (Video by Andrew Rush; 1/23/2014)
"Pennsylvania's Air Force installations and units exemplify the commission's goal of maximizing capabilities and cost-efficiency while ensuring readiness and effectiveness," wrote the senator.
He said the 911th, which maintains eight C-130H planes, has developed an "innovative" maintenance program for them that has become the "benchmark" for similar C-130 units. The letter says the effort has reduced the average inspection time for the planes from 52 days in 2006 to 21 days last year, saving $84 million in that time.
The 911th also benefits from partnerships with local entities, the senator wrote. The Air Force leases 100 acres for $20,000 a year from the airport authority and uses another 21 acres at no charge.
In addition, the letter says, the county has an agreement with the Air Force that allows the service to use four runways at Pittsburgh International Airport, as well as fire protection and other services. The letter says re-creating these capabilities elsewhere would cost nearly $400 million.
Mr. Casey also noted that the Defense Department has invested more than $50 million in the past five years to support the expansion of its military presence in the airport area. Other facilities there include the Air National Guard 171st Air Refueling Wing, the McGarity Army Reserve Center and a naval operations support center being built at the 911th.
The 911th was set for closure in 2013, but the Air Force reversed that decision after supporters made a case for its efficiency.
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