TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE — Only four C-5 Galaxy jet transports at Travis will be affected by the changes from President Obama’s 2015 fiscal year budget, according to an announcement released by the Travis Public Affairs Office.
The four are a small part of plans to move the Air Force to a leaner force, with plans to remove almost 500 aircraft from its inventory during the next five years.
In California, that also includes plans to remove 72 MC-12 Liberty surveillance aircraft and retiring 32 U-2 Dragon Lady surveillance aircraft from active-duty bases in 2015 and 2016, according to the Air Force website. Both types of aircraft are based at Beale Air Force Base near Marysville.
For Travis, the proposed change means transitioning four C-5s based here from a primary aircraft authorization status to a backup aircraft inventory status. Primary aircraft authorizations are aircraft fully funded and manned for missions, while backup aircraft are not fully funded or manned and are available for missions only when necessary.
There are 18 C-5s assigned to Travis.
The same change is proposed for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, with the air mobility wing stationed there slated to see four of its C-5 Galaxies moved to backup aircraft inventory status.
While none of the C-5s are leaving town, the base’s manning associated with the four aircraft will change, according to Travis’ Public Affairs Office.
Fairfield Mayor Harry Price said the impact “should be minimal, however, until we know more, we have to take a very cautious approach.”
“Limited resources require the Air Force to make difficult choices to balance readiness, capability and capacity to meet all challenges both present and future,” said Travis commander Col. Corey Martin in the press release. “The reclassification will impact daily operations, but will not affect our overall mission readiness.”
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said in the release that the Air Force is working to “strike the delicate balance of a ready force today and a modern force tomorrow, while working to ensure the world’s best Air Force is the most capable at the lowest cost to the taxpayer.”
Travis Community Consortium member Bud Ross pointed out that the Air Force’s budget has to get through the federal budget process and what finally gets signed by the president may not be the same budget that the Air Force proposed.
Price vowed to keep looking into the issues and gave the same message as Ross.
“It is important to note that this is only a proposal at this point,” he said, and that “Congress is just beginning its authorization and appropriations process for FY 2015 and will have a say on this proposal.”
There was no mention about the earlier proposed retirement of the Air Force’s 59-aircraft KC-10 Extender air tanker fleet, about half of which are stationed at Travis.
Rumors about that surfaced last fall, prompted local leaders to query the Air Force and Air Mobility Command about the possible large loss of so many aircraft and their supporting manpower.
Price said it was good news to not see the KC-10 cuts in the proposed budget, but he remains wary.
“We should also keep our fingers crossed,” he said.
While the KC-10 retirement proposal is not in the budget, other Travis supporters said that if federal across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration rears its head again, the KC-10s will return to the chopping block in 2016.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.