Air Force to Close 911th Airlift Wing in Moon
More than 1,400 military and civilian jobs are slated to be eliminated by the closing.
The Air Force plans to reduce personnel based in Pennsylvania by 25 percent as a part of the measure. Closing the 911th — the only U.S. base to be shuttered under the plan — will eliminate as many as 281 civilian and 1,122 military positions at the base.
All of the 911th's eight C-130 tactical aircraft also will be retired under the plan. The Air Force in February announced its intention to close the base in fiscal year 2013.
The Air Force also will also retire four KC-135 refueling tankers at the neighboring 171st Refueling Wing and reduce aircraft at multiple Air Force installations throughout the country as a part of the measure. More than 180 positions at the 171st will be eliminated.
The local actions are part of a $4.7 billion military restructuring plan aimed at cutting federal defense spending. The Pentagon has cited a need for geographic balance and the base's aging aircraft as reasons for the closure — the 911th's eight C-130s were the oldest tactical aircraft still flying for the U.S. military.
Local officials and members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation have urged military officials to reexamine the closure, saying that the 911th's use of runways at Pittsburgh International Airport make it one of the most cost-effective military installations in the country. The 911th pays $20,000 annually for use of those runways.
"This fight is far from over," said U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, in a statement. "The decision to proceed with closing down the 911th is misguided, misinformed and mistaken. The facts speaks for themselves: The 911th is rated as one of the most cost-effective bases in the country."
The Air Force maintains it is authorized to close the base without congressional approval because the 911th, which provides tactical airlift support, does not meet the minimum requirements to fall under Base Realignment and Closure regulations. The 911th has been targeted twice before for closure, in 1995 and 2005.
Since 2004, the Air Force has invested more than $50 million in infrastructure at the base, including the construction of several new facilities for medical training, lodging and aircraft maintenance, according to Murphy's office.
Sally Haas, president of the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, said as many as 2,500 jobs in the airport region, including military positions and contractors, could be lost or affected by the base's closure. She said the 911th generates $114 million annually in salaries in the Pittsburgh region.
"The base has a huge history in this township and the regional community," Creesesaid. "For the airport's surrounding community the announce [to close the 911th] is a huge surprise and a huge blow to the community."
Click the media to view the Air Force's announcement for its upcoming force reductions.