BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Keesler Air Force Base will lose ten aircraft from the 403rd Wing under proposed defense cuts presented to Congress Monday. The Air Force Reserve Command plans to transfer the 10 C-130J aircraft to the newly-reactivated 913th Airlift Group at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.
"A loss of personnel and aircraft will be hard felt at Keesler and in our community," said Col. Frank L. Amodeo, 403rd Wing commander. "If the Air Force begins executing this transfer, our priority will be to care of our personnel and their families during this difficult time."
The C-130J aircraft were originally to be reassigned to the 440th Airlift Wing, Pope Air Field, N.C., however that unit is slated to be inactivated as well as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 budget request.
In addition, the budget cuts call for inactivating the 403rd Civil Engineer Squadron. In 2012, two other KAFB squadrons were slated to be cut, the 815th and the 345th Tactical Airlift Squadrons. The proposed cuts are expected to decrease the strength for the Air Force Reserve 4.7 percent from 70,400 to 67,100 authorized reservists.
Congress must approve the Air Force cuts along with the large-scale Department of Defense cuts unveiled last week by Secretary Chuck Hagel. If enacted into law, the DOD budget request would increase the number of Reserve fighter wings equipped with F-16 fighters, create a classic associate B-1 bomber group, increase the number of Reserve KC-135 tankers, inactivate the Reserve airlift wing at Pope Field, N.C., retire the A-10 fighters, and inactivate the Reserve's E-3 AWACS classic associate group.
"These force structure changes are significant, but they ensure the Air Force Reserve remains an integrated, flexible and combat-ready force," said Brig. Gen. William "Buck" Waldrop, director of plans, programs, requirements and assessments for Air Force Reserve Command.