DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The U.S. Air Force is planning mission changes at two Michigan bases as part of a restructuring plan as the Pentagon works to rein in military spending, officials said Friday.
A C-27J cargo aircraft mission planned for the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base will be replaced with a unit flying MQ-1 and MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicles, said Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Pilots on the ground would operate the aircraft as they fly combat reconnaissance and strike missions, as is happening in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Also, A-10 fighters will be removed from the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County. The wing would gain four KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft, enhancing the base’s role in supporting cargo and combat operations.
U.S. Representative Candice Miller issued a statement, saying she was “concerned” about structural change proposal at Selfridge.
“I remain very concerned about the impact that the loss of the 24 A-10 Ground Attack aircraft currently based at Selfridge ANGB will have on the base. A net loss of 20 aircraft at the base will certainly mean a loss of jobs and will diminish the overall scope of the mission of the Michigan Air National Guard. My concern also extends to if there is just one mission at Selfridge ANGB then that will make the base more vulnerable if the Pentagon is successful in achieving the expected two upcoming BRAC rounds in 2013 and 2015,” the statement said.
The full effect of the changes on the two bases won’t be known until March, when information about personnel and future missions will be available, said Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, director and adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard.
“Obviously the message is clear that we will continue flying operations at both Battle Creek and Selfridge, but these changes aren’t a one-for-one trade,” Vadnais said. “We are still awaiting (Air Force) determination of non-flying mission adjustments and the next effects of the projected cuts.”
Levin said he would remain in touch with Air Force officials “to ensure that our bases retain the critical personnel they need to conduct these important missions.”
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