02/05/12 — Air Force releases fiscal year cuts plan -- Seymour appears safe

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Air Force releases fiscal year cuts plan -- Seymour appears safe

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on February 5, 2012 1:50 AM

Top Air Force officials have unveiled a plan that will save the branch nearly $9 billion in fiscal year 2013.

And while more than 60 installations in 33 states will be affected, either through the retirement or realignment of planes, should the measures be implemented, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base appears to have come out unscathed.

Overall, of the 200 aircraft identified for retirement in fiscal year 2013, no F-15E Strike Eagles were included, although several F-15 Aggressors will be taken out of service. The KC-135Rs were not as fortunate, though, with 20 Stratotankers on the chopping block -- six from Rickenbacker, Ohio, four from the Pittsburgh Air National Guard, four from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., three from Altus Air Force Base, Okla. and one from Phoenix, Ariz., Sioux City, Iowa and March Air Force Base, Calif., each. Seymour's 916th Air Refueling Wing was not included among the cuts.

But there was positive tanker-related news embedded within the plan.

Development of the KC-46, the aircraft poised to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of KC-135s, "remains on track for initial deliveries" in 2016.

And requirements are currently being developed for the first two bases expected to house them -- basing criteria are due to be approved in March and the candidates are expected to be identified by June.

Also in the plan is re-affirmation that despite delays in the delivery of the F-35 multi-role fighter, "it is still the future of both active and reserve multi-role squadrons," and that another 160 are expected to be acquired through fiscal year 2017.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz have also detailed plans to cut the service by nearly 10,000 active, National Guard and Reserve airmen in 2013 -- 3,900 active duty, 5,100 Air Guard and 900 Air Force reserves -- a move they said will better position the country for defense and war fighting.

There is no indication, however, whether any of the personnel cuts will affect the men and women stationed in Goldsboro, although more details are expected to be unwrapped in the coming weeks.

Overall, the Air Force has planned $487 billion in budget cuts over the next 10 years.

For more on the Air Force decisions, see www.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-120203-027.pdf.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.