• Air Force to close 911th Airlift Wing in Pittsburgh

    PITTSBURGH (AP),None (AP)ong> - The U.S. Air Force plans to close the 911th Airlift Wing in Pittsburgh.

    The Air Force said in a statement Friday that it plans to retire or transfer all seven C-130H2 aircraft from the base over the next two years.

    The Pittsburgh Air National Guard Base will remain open, but four KC-135 aircraft from that base will also be retired.

    Master Sgt. Mark Winklosky, a spokesman for the 911th Wing, said no information has been released yet about personnel changes at the base.

    The changes are part of a long-term plan to reduce military budgets.

    Several lawmakers said they plan to fight to keep the base open for many different reasons. The area would lose jobs if the base closes. The region’s economy would also take a hit if the base closes.

    Officials said more than 1,200 Air Force reserve members are part of the 911th Wing. Also, 318 civilians work at the base, with a payroll of about $19 million.

    Experts estimated the presence of the 911th Wing in Moon Township brings in nearly $100 million for the local economy each year.

    Congressman Jason Altmire said Congress, not the Air Force, has to approve the closure of the base.

    “We’re going to work hard as a delegation in a bipartisan way to make sure those jobs stay here,” Altmire said. “But the defense of this country, they’re going through a re-organization and downsizing in a lot of ways. This is one of the things that’s being looked at. But, we’re going to try to prevent it from happening.”

    U.S. Sen. Bob Casey released this statement, saying in part, “The administration made the wrong decision to close the 911th and they should immediately reconsider. I will fight to keep the 911th open and I will demand answers on how they came to this decision which I believe will have a serious negative impact on our economy and national security.”      

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