The Ohio Air National Guard’s 179th Airlift Wing is back to full flying operations with its full complement of eight C-130Hs following conversion from the C-27J Spartan, and expects an initial operational capability determination by next spring, unit spokesman TSgt. Joseph Harwood told Air Force Magazine. The unit at Mansfield ANGB, Ohio, flew legacy C-130s from 1976 until 2010, when it became the first unit to transition to the new C-27J, receiving a total of four Spartans. When the Air Force elected to divest the C-27J fleet in 2013, the 179th AW began its transition back to the C-130H. Over the past two years the wing has recruited, retrained, and recertified aircrew, maintainers, and support personnel to grow from its previously authorized strength of 650 personnel to the approximately 850 authorized to support C-130 operations. The unit also took delivery of one of the first C-130 multi-mission crew trainers in the ANG, ahead of 179th Operations Group Commander Col. Mark Auer announcing the return to a basic level of mission competency last month, according to a release. The unit received its final C-130 on Oct. 10, 2014, according to Harwood.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.