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Chairman Courtney Statement on Air Force C-130J Basing Decision

November 24, 2020
Press Release

VERNON, CT – Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, today issued the following statement in response to the Air Force’s strategic basing decision for new C-130J aircraft for the Air National Guard.

“For months now, basing candidate sites in Connecticut and seven other states have waiting anxiously for outcome of this process. These states deserve a consistent, impartial, and apolitical process that judges each site by the merits—and that is not what they got, unfortunately. As I have relayed to senior Air Force leaders repeatedly in recent months, there have been serious concerns raised from around the country that the Air Force’s criteria changed during the latter stages of the evaluation process. 

“To make matters worse, the Air Force without the slightest warning added a fourth site, assigning aircraft not yet approved by Congress to be based in Georgia. This surprise move was never once included in the Air Forces basing plans shared with our committee over the last two years, and it taints this process in the midst of a presidential transition and two special elections in Georgia. That frankly does not pass the smell test.

“Each year, Congress works on a bipartisan basis to authorize and fund critical modernization upgrades and aircraft recapitalization needs for our Air National Guard cargo aircraft fleet that are left unmet by the Air Force. We do this because of the critical nature of the mission they serve and the important work they do for their states and our nation. The very least we should expect is a basing process that allocates these critical aircraft in an unbiased way and I am disappointed that the Air Force did not meet that necessary and low bar.”

Background:

  • In March, the Air Force notified Congress of its intention to conduct a strategic basing process to base 24 C-130J aircraft at three new sites. Eight locations were considered, including Bradley Airport in Connecticut. A decision was planned by September.
  • In September, the Air Force notified Congress that additional analysis was needed to select the three candidate locations.
  • In separate calls in September and October, Chairman Courtney raised concerns with Air Force Secretary Barrett, Air Force Chief of Staff Brown, and Director, Air National Guard Loh that there was the appearance of inconsistency with the selection criteria, with sites initially told that cost and capacity – i.e. the ability to support the new aircraft without significant funding and upgrades – were the primary criteria to be considered.
  • In the announcement today, a fourth site was added that allocates yet-to-be-approved aircraft in the FY21 defense authorization and appropriations bills to Georgia. A fourth site and additional aircraft were never previously part of the basing process until this very late stage.