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Lawmakers Question Air Force Aircraft, Air National Guard Cuts

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Lawmakers are set to review the 2013 defense authorization bill later this month, including the Air Force’s budgetary and staffing plans, Defense News reports.

The branch proposed to cut 3,900 active duty, 5,100 Air National Guard members and 900 reserve airmen.

During a House Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, lawmakers questioned the Air Force’s proposed cuts, voicing opposition to aircraft reduction or loss in their specific districts.

Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) said the Air Force’s budget cuts fall too heavily on the Air National Guard.

Latham brought the committee’s attention to potential cuts to the 132nd Fighter Wing, which would eliminate production of the General Dynamics-built F-16 fighter jet in Des Moines.

Latham told the committee to continue to push the service for cost-assessment analysis that would justify cuts associated with Des Moines-stationed fleet.

The Air Force also plans to downsize its Pittsburgh International Airport airlift and refueling wings.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) said that he had not received the Air Force’s cost-benefit analysis justifying its plan to close operations in Pittsburgh.

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) asked the committee to support the Air Force’s B-1 bomber fleet, located at the Dyess Air Force Base.

Neugebauer played a part in legislation limiting the Air Force’s ability to retire its B-1 aircraft over the next five years in last year’s authorization bill.

Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) indicated the committee would consider lawmakers’ concerns during the markup of the plan.

The hearing additionally covered topics including small business contractor competition and military hazing.

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