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AF report to Congress: Pursues retention of C-130Js at Keesler

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss (AFNS) -- As part of a required Air Force report to Congress on the C-130 Hercules force structure, the Secretary of the Air Force released a force structure amendment pursuing the retention of 10 Air Force Reserve Command C-130J aircraft at Keesler Air Force Base.

According to the report, retaining the aircraft will provide the efficiency of operating two squadrons together under a single wing overhead.

The 815th Airlift Squadron is a tactical airlift unit that flies the C-130Js and is part of the Air Force Reserve Command's 403rd Wing. The unit, which dates back to World War II and has been at Keesler since 1973, currently helps transport supplies, equipment and personnel in the theater of operation. The wing's second flying squadron is the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, also known as the "Hurricane Hunters."

"We received the secretary of the Air Force report this afternoon," Col. Frank L. Amodeo said on April 14. Amodeo is the 403rd Wing commander. "We are still reviewing the report and as we learn the implications of this amendment, its impact to the wing, and (as we) receive guidance from Air Force Reserve Command, we will provide that information to our Airmen, their families, and the community."

Plans to close the 815th Airlift Squadron and move the aircraft to another base were announced in 2012. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 called for the transfer of 10-C-130J aircraft to Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina.

"Our plan moving forward is to continue to care for our citizen Airmen at the 403rd Wing," Amodeo said. "As we learn more about how the new force structure announcement will be implemented, we will continue to operate openly and transparently with our Airmen, their families and the community."

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