PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The battle over the proposed closure of the 911th Airlift Wing and downsizing of the 171st Air Refueling Wing is heating up.

The Department of Defense and the Air Force made the announcement Feb. 3 that he 911th Airlift Wing would close.

“I’d like to emphasize that the 911th Airlift Wing is not closed and it’s not a done deal,” said Brian Schill, of the Military Affairs Coalition of Western Pa.

That’s why elected officials – Allegheny County, state and federal – stood together at the Heinz History Center today in opposition to the plan.

“Our sense is the Air Force went for the easy decision as opposed the most economical decision. The economical decision is to keep the base open. The easy decision is to not have to go through Congress,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy. “If they have more than 300 employees they have to come back to us, the House and Senate, and ask us to review this. We still want to have a review. The taxpayers deserve to have that review. The region deserves to have that review. “

If the plan goes through, the 171st Air Refueling Wing would give up four of its KC-135 aircrafts, which is a quarter of its 16 planes.

Like the 911th, the 171st is based at Pittsburgh International Airport.

“They are just looking at the fact that we have some old C-130s,” added U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle. “It’s the Air Force that gave us the old 130s. They took some of our newer planes and shuffled them somewhere else and gave us these old planes, and now I think they are using that as the basis to say that this base shouldn’t be open any more. That just doesn’t just make any sense.”

The Military Affairs Coalition of Western Pennsylvania claims the Air Force did not use due diligence in picking these units for downsizing, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald stands behind the efforts.

“From the state level, from the county level, from the federal level, we are all united in the fact that we do need to have efficiencies and that there need to be savings, we are all for that,” Fitzgerald said. “We are just asking that the due diligence is being done.”

Congressman Murphy Not Giving Up On 911th Airlift Wing (3/6/12)
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