CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Gov. Jim Justice celebrated the announcement by U.S. Air Force officials today that the 130th Airlift Wing, located at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base in Charleston, has been selected as a preferred alternative to convert to the C-130J-30 Super Hercules.
The announcement came from the Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara Barrett. The 130th Airlift Wing was selected due to its ability to support the mission, economic factors, and environmental considerations.
“I want to congratulate our 130th Airlift Wing on an achievement for which they must feel incredibly honored. I could not be happier for our entire West Virginia National Guard for being recognized on a national level with this important selection by the U.S. Air Force,” Gov. Justice said. “I truly believe that our National Guardsmen and women in West Virginia are second to none in the country. When people are in trouble, they always run to the fire. When it comes to Charleston being selected as a base to upgrade these aircraft, I know that the men and women with the 130th Airlift Wing will do whatever it takes to make our nation proud.”
“Today’s announcement is fantastic news for the West Virginia National Guard and our entire state. The West Virginia National Guard is exceptional and has worked tirelessly to ensure the 130th Airlift Wing in Charleston is the best home for the Air National Guard C-130J Recapitalization and Basing program. I am pleased to see their hard work pay off. This growing partnership will reap benefits for our entire state as the men and women of our National Guard are able to fulfill an expanded role with more capable and modern aircraft, and I know that our National Guard will continue to represent West Virginia well,” said Senator Joe Manchin III.
“The West Virginia National Guard is an exceptional force in West Virginia and continues to be recognized nationally for their excellence. The announcement today that the 130th Airlift Wing has been selected to become home to C-130J aircraft under the Air National Guard’s C-130J Recapitalization and Basing program is great news for not only our National Guard and Charleston, but also for the entire state of West Virginia. Our National Guard works around the clock tirelessly in service to our residents. It is truly great to see due recognition come their way. Replacing the current C-130H planes with the modernized C-130Js will help grow opportunities within our state, and continue to foster positive relationships that enhance training partnerships between the West Virginia National Guard and military units from throughout the country. I am grateful to play a role in this exciting announcement and look forward to the benefits it will bring West Virginia,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito.
The 130th Airlift Wing has undergone several meetings and a site survey with National Guard Bureau representatives throughout the process, during which, the team looked enterprise-wide to make a determination on the most viable options for potential basing locations. This deliberate and repeatable process uses criteria-based analysis and military judgment.
Currently, the 130th Airlift Wing operates eight C-130H3 Hercules model aircraft, which are more than 25 years old. The 130th Airlift Wing has had a C-130 mission since 1975 and has converted to numerous variations of the C-130 over the years.
The Wing maintains a mission capability rate on the C-130H3 that exceeds the Air National Guard standard and is currently the second best of all the ANG C-130H3 units. In addition, the unit’s strength and retention numbers are consistently one of the highest in the nation and the organization possesses modern infrastructure that would allow for the parking, operation, and maintenance of a larger aircraft such as the C-130J-30s, which would not require military construction dollars to be allocated to the unit, if selected.
“This is a monumental step forward for the West Virginia Air National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, West Virginia Adjutant General. “The 130th Airlift Wing has a demonstrated history of excellence in the C-130 airframe and this announcement is an important point in the process, which we hope will ultimately lead to a decision for recapitalization to the C-130J-30s in Charleston so that our Airmen are at the forefront of the future fight.
“Without the support of Governor Justice, our Congressional Delegation, the Kanawha County Commission, and the City of Charleston, none of this would be possible,” Hoyer continued. “We receive tremendous backing from our community, our Guard families, and retirees, and we are thankful for their continued support in this endeavor.”
The basing decision for the C-130J-30s will become final upon successful completion of the environmental impact analysis process.
“It is an exciting time to be a member of the 130th Airlift Wing,” stated Col. Bryan Preece, commander of the 130th Airlift Wing. “These new C-130J Super Hercules aircraft will keep the unit viable well into the future. I am confident that the men and women of the 130th Airlift Wing will meet the challenges associated with this mission and changes that come with it with the same dedication this organization has demonstrated since 1955.”
The C-130J entered the inventory in February 1999 and boasts a noticeable difference of a six-bladed composite propeller coupled to a Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engine. The C-130J brings substantial performance improvements over all previous models. The C-130J-30, a stretch version with a 15-foot fuselage extension, increases capabilities to include speed, numbers of pallets, and personnel that can be airlifted, and maximum payload capacity.