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Guard base losing C-130s

March 05, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Two of the 167th Airlift Wing's C-130 cargo planes were scheduled to be moved Friday to Peoria, Ill., as part of the local base's conversion to using larger C-5 jets.

Another C-130 left for the 167th's sister West Virginia Air National Guard unit in Charleston, W.Va., last month, said Lt. Col. Roger Sencindiver of the 167th.

The 167th eventually will lose all of its 12 C-130s, to be replaced with 10 C-5s.

All of the C-130s likely will be gone within 12 to 14 months, Sencindiver said, but the first C-5 is not expected to arrive until the end of 2006, at the earliest.

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The months when there are no planes at the base could be frustrating, Sencindiver said.

Some members likely will fly with other units in the interim, while those who handle maintenance for the planes will continue to undergo training.

Sencindiver said that the first C-5 to arrive probably will be a training plane, used to help Guard members become acclimated to the larger jet.

A change in mission and an increase in personnel will accompany the arrival of the C-5s.

Another 150 to 200 Guard members will be needed once the C-5s arrive, with most of them handling maintenance-related tasks.

A change in mission also is expected. When a C-5 leaves from Martinsburg, it likely will be empty. It then will stop at a major base along the Atlantic Ocean, such as Dover Air Force Base in Delaware or Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina.

Cargo will be loaded there and the plane will cross the ocean to a major base, such as Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

There, the cargo will be loaded onto a C-130 and distributed to more isolated areas, Sencindiver said.

The C-130s currently take cargo directly from Martinsburg to overseas sites.

Unlike now with the C-130s, C-5s will not be flown over the area throughout the day. The number of flights will be decreased, officials have said.

To accommodate the C-5s, larger hangars need to be built, the runway needs to be extended and the base's main entrance will be off U.S. 11 south of Martinsburg, instead of its present entrance off Kelly Island Road, Sencindiver said.

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