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Air Force delays plans to shift aircraft from Keesler

BILOXI — Air Force Reserve Command headquarters has announced a delay of plans to move 10 C-130Js from Keesler Air Force Base to Pope Airfield, N.C.

Keesler officials said in a news release yesterday received by the Sun Herald the movement of planes from 815th and 345th airlift squadrons was scheduled for Oct. 1, but has been delayed until April, and could be further delayed until October 2014.

“The Air Force’s decision to postpone 10 aircraft leaving Keesler is welcomed news for our employees and their families affected by the restructuring,” said Col. Craig LaFave, commander of the 403rd Reserve Wing. “All future proposals to our C-130 fleet is speculative now but is tied to planned Army and Marine Corps strength reductions, which ultimately drives the need for tactical airlift. We should have more clarity over the next few months as to how their end strengths are shaping up and what that might mean for Team Keesler.”

A base news release said the aircraft are being used primarily for tactical airlift missions locally and overseas. In addition to the loss of aircraft, the Force Structure Action Implementation Plan indicated the 815th Airlift Squadron and its active-duty partners, the 345th Airlift Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base, would have closed their doors.

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, known as the Hurricane Hunters, is not scheduled to lose aircraft or personnel under the proposal.

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