Let’s Rethink Those Tac Airlift Numbers

Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt, Air National Guard director, told lawmakers last week that the new Mobility Capabilities and Requirements Study is essentially OBE on tactical airlift needs. Wyatt told the House Appropriations defense panel that the MCRS did not consider the Air Force’s newly acquired direct support mission when it said USAF only needed about 335 of its total 401 C-130s. Armed with that data and facing budget pressures, USAF planned to restructure its C-130 fleet—retiring some and shifting some reserve aircraft to the active force, much to Congressional dismay. Wyatt also noted that the C-27J portion of the equation is still unresolved, with a requirement for 78 but a DOD plan to purchase only 38 and fill in with C-130s. And, said Wyatt, there’s a homegrown need. He concluded, “There’s probably a greater need for tactical airlift than the MCRS has identified.” (Wyatt’s written testimony)