Give Us C-17s, Sooner not Later

New York lawmakers have asked the Air Force to provide an update on the status of the C-17 airlifters promised for the New York Air National Guard’s 105th Airlift Wing. Rep. John Hall (D) and Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D) sent a letter to Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz last week reminding him that there “was a plan in place to convert the 105th to C-17s in calendar year 2010.” They say they have just learned that the Air Force no longer plans to use the additional 15 C-17s funded in FY 2008 supplemental appropriations to “cascade” C-17s to the 105th. Instead, they “will be used as backup aircraft inventory (BAI)” for the active force until USAF completes the Mobility Capabilities Requirements Study this fall. And, that means the service will delay force structure and force stationing decisions “until at least 2010,” they write. In their view, placing the additional C-17s in BAI status “does not support the intent of Congress.” Not replacing the 105th AW’s C-5As, which are “some of the oldest in the inventory,” they write, “will jeopardize the future of the wing and potentially affect the lives of thousands who live in the [Stewart ANG Base] area.”