Illinois’s Democrat governor has asked Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne not to move the current Air National Guard F-16 unit based in the state’s capital, or if it does leave as USAF’s current plans dictate, to base cargo aircraft there. The Springfield Journal-Register reports that Gov. Rod Blagojevich urged Wynne in a Jan. 22 missive to keep the F-16s of the 183rd Fighter Wing at the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. The governor pushed a legal challenge to the relocation of the unit’s 15 F-16s under BRAC 2005, even as he and other state elected officials pursued alternative missions. The airplanes are scheduled to leave this year, possibly as soon as April, according to the newspaper. But in his letter, Blagojevich calls on the Air Force to reconsider, noting that it has already changed its mind about moving cargo aircraft from a unit in Nashville, Tenn. If the F-16s are relocated, then Blagojevich suggests replacing them with C-27 Joint Cargo Aircraft, the newspaper said. The Lincoln airport was not on the list of potential bases for the C-27 in the future weapons roadmap that USAF issued on Jan. 16.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.