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U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyo., joined a group of bipartisan senators to advocate for a large enough C-130 aircraft fleet to support active duty missions as well as respond to disasters and emergencies at home. The letter comes after news that the Air Force was considering reductions in the size of the C-130 fleet.

The senators wrote to the Armed Services Committee conferees urging them to ensure the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill adopts House language so that the nation maintains an adequate inventory of C-130 aircraft.

“Our Air National Guard C-130 flying wings provide nearly half of the Air Force’s tactical airlift capability. For more than 50 years, we have brought Americans into combat, provided humanitarian relief around the globe, and supported domestic response throughout the nation. As the Air Force proposes changes to align our force structure with the National Defense Strategy (NDS), it is vitally important we do not trade experience and knowhow in pursuit of expensive, less defined capabilities,” the senators wrote.

The senators concluded, “the ANG C-130 fleet has been the backbone of our tactical airlift capability for a generation. Our ANG wings have built experience and expertise through repeated deployments and domestic operations. Hard choices will be required as we restructure the Air Force to face future foreign and domestic challenges. Therefore, we must make informed, data driven, decisions as we manage the C-130 fleet. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to incorporate House Section 1043 supporting a [Total Aircraft Inventory] of 292 C-130 Aircraft in the final Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.”

The letter was led by U.S. Senator Tina Smith, D-Minn., and was also signed by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Joe Manchin, D-W.V., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., Chris Coons, D-Del., Tom Carper, D-Del., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.

Text of the letter is available here.