Update: Moon's 911th Airlift Wing to Remain Open
Defense Secretary Panetta halts aircraft retirements at base until Congress takes action.
Update: Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, announced today that the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon Township will remain open for at least one more year following a directive from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
The reprieve will maintain more than 1,100 military and 300 civilian jobs at the air base.
From the Congressman:
“This is welcome news for our region’s military families and an important recognition of the role Congress must play in authorizing base closures and major changes to our military’s structure. Even with this decision, our efforts are not finished, and I’m going to keep working to save the 911th—one of the most accomplished and cost-effective bases in the country."
The Air Force targeted the 911th for closure for its aging aircraft and geographic location. The base is assigned eight C-130s that are among the oldest tactical aircraft still flying in the military.
In a statement, Murphy called Panetta's directive an "acknowledgement of our efforts to expose the flaws in the initial Air Force structure recommendations." Local officials criticized the Air Force for moving to close the 911th without performing a public cost-benefit analysis.
Air Force officials said shuttering the wing would save the military $300 million annually. The closure was a part of an effort to trim $8.7 billion from the Air Force's 2013 budget. Multiple bases around the country were set to undergo realignments under the plan, but the 911th was the only one slated to close.
Both the House and Senate defense budget bills for the upcoming fiscal year prohibit the Air Force from transferring or retiring aircraft.
Tech Sgt. Jamie L. Perry said the 911th's public affairs office had no comment on the announcement.
"It's all business as usual here," Perry said.