The Air Force is establishing an Intra-Theater Airlift Working Group to determine how best to comply with the language in this fiscal year’s defense authorization act mandating the restoration of 32 tactical airlifters that the service leadership intended to retire. The working group will provide recommendations to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley by the end of January, service spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told the Daily Report on Jan. 4. Donley will then announce his final decision on the restorals “sometime after that meeting,” she said. The working group will comprise representatives from the Active Duty component (e.g. headquarters staff, Air Mobility Command), Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve, said Stefanek. Among the group’s members is Lt. Gen. Michael Moeller who’s in charge of strategic plans and programs on the Air Staff, according to a release from Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa,) who is fighting to save the C-130 flying mission of Air Force Reserve Command’s 911th Airlift Wing in Pittsburgh. Congress gave the Air Force the latitude to decide whether the 32 airlifters retained are C-130s, C-27Js, or a mix of C-130s and C-27Js. President Obama signed the defense legislation into law on Jan. 2.
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.