Pope Army Airfield could lose C-130 fleet in new budget


Budget documents just released call for retiring the entire 440th Air Wing fleet of C-130s. Right now, no one is sure what the impact is going to be on Fort Bragg.

For the past 50 years, the Air Force C-130 has been a familiar sight in the skies around Fort Bragg. It's a workhorse aircraft. The "Herky Bird" has hauled troops to training drops, and war zones.

Now, a 2015 Air Force budget document has proposed retiring the older model C-130H, which would include 12 of the planes that make up the 440th Airlift Wing at Pope Army Airfield.

The 440th moved from Wisconsin to Pope in 2005, as part of the base realignment and closure plan.

According to reports, the 440th provides only about one-fourth of the training flights at Fort Bragg, and there are no plans to replace the aging fleet based here. Retiring the H-models is part of a modernization program.

In a statement, Sen. Kay Hagan said, "Inactivating the Air Force's 440th Airlift Wing from Pope Army Airfield is unacceptable. The 440th provides critical support to the 82nd Airborne Division and other major units at Fort Bragg. Without them, there would be no Air Force planes stationed at Ft. Bragg. I strongly disagree with this decision, which will adversely affect the readiness of troops at Fort Bragg and cost North Carolina over 1,100 jobs. I intend to fight to see this decision reversed."

Both Hagan and Sen. Richard Burr are asking for more details about the proposed plan. Hagan says Pope could lose more than 1,100 full time and part-time jobs.

Local civilian officials say they will lobby Pentagon officials to keep C-130s, and the 440th Airlift wing at Pope Army Airfield.

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