The 815th AS has been in limbo for a while now thanks to the Total Force Plan's intent to reduce the number of C-130 aircraft in the Air Force's inventory, with North Carolina, Georgia and most recently Arkansas labeled as landing spots for their aircraft. Monday, the Air Force withdrew a provision in the November 2013 deactivation notice that prohibited replacing personnel from the 815th AS.
Tuesday, a release from the base included the following statement from 403rd Wing Commander Col. Frank L. Amodeo:
"As always, the 403rd Wing leadership remains committed to taking care of our Airmen and families," he said. "We continue to evaluate the evolving situation and remain committed to safe mission accomplishment. Should the 10 aircraft in question depart, the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the 'Hurricane Hunters.' will remain at Keesler as the Wing's sole flying squadron."
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 required the transfer of 10 C-130J aircraft to Pope Army Airfield in North Carolina. At the time, plans also included the closure of the 815th AS and 345th AS. Those closures, in addition to associated reductions in maintenance personnel, would have resulted in the loss of 477 personnel.
NDAA 15 calls for the closing of the 440th Airlift Wing at Pope and changed the destination of Keesler's 10 C-130Js to Little Rock (Ark.) Air Force Base and the reactivated 913th Airlift Group.
In May, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a Wicker provision that would prohibit movement of aircraft until 60 days after the Air Force provides detailed written reports to Congress. The Air Force comptroller general also would be required to send a separate report on cost assessment 45 days after the original reports are received.
With the NDAA 15 still undecided, the Air Force Reserve Command has delayed the movement of the 10 C-130J aircraft.
According to a joint release from U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, and U.S. Congressman Steven Palazzo, Monday's announcement should allow the Flying Jennies to at least maintain its current strength.