November 24, 2020

Duckworth, Durbin, Bustos Statement on DOD Announcement of C-130J Aircraft Awards


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) issued the below statement following an announcement from the Department of Defense (DOD).

After delaying its initial summer announcement, DOD will award three states – Kentucky, Texas and West Virginia – with new C-130J aircraft. DOD also announced a fourth, previously unplanned “contingency location” to receive the new military planes – Georgia.

“I’m extremely disappointed the 182nd Airlift Wing was not selected for the latest round of C130J recapitalization—despite being eminently qualified,” said Senator Duckworth. “This shortsighted decision appears to validate our fear that communities like Peoria and the 182nd would ultimately pay the price for Donald Trump’s illegal reprogramming of DoD funds earlier this year for a border wall he promised Mexico would pay for. I remain troubled that this decision does not support the National Defense Strategy and may have been unduly influenced by political considerations during the waning days of a lame duck Administration, and I look forward to working with the incoming Biden Administration to support C-130J Recapitalization in the months ahead.”

“The women and men of the Illinois Air National Guard should know that Congress has your back,” said Senator Durbin. “We are going to work even harder to get you the new equipment and aircraft that you have earned with your sacrifices. Today’s announcement raises troubling questions about whether the Administration is playing political games once again with a national security issue, just as the White House did in February by diverting $1.6 billion in National Guard equipment to pay for a campaign promise on the Southwest border.”

 “I am deeply disappointed by DOD’s lack of transparency in its decision to hand out aircraft that it has yet to receive,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “The Department’s determination to assign future planes to the only state with a pivotal Congressional election pending reeks of partisan games and preferential treatment. Time and again, this Administration has acted in its own interests rather than the best interests of the nation it is meant to serve. From attempting to divert National Guard modernization funding to build a border wall, to burdening cash-strapped states with COVID-19 response costs, this latest announcement calls into question when and how the decision was made to expand the scope of DOD’s evaluation of current and future aircraft awards. I will continue to fight for the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria and for the service men and women who so bravely and tirelessly serve our nation.”

In Peoria, the 182nd Airlift Wing’s current C-130H mission performs the tactical portion of various airlift missions and has a strong history of outstanding performance, including the highest C-130H mission capability rate in the Air National Guard from 2009-2017. The 182nd has also achieved the most fully mission capable C-130 hours since June 2013 while flying the most hours since October 2012 for the deployed location.