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Budget Cuts Hit Md. Air National Guard Hard

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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MIDDLE RIVER, Md. (WJZ) — Budget cuts in the military have hit the Maryland Air National Guard particularly hard, with fleets of aircraft being reassigned or retired.

But now, as Mike Schuh reports, as one group of attack jets are leaving, a fleet of cargo planes will return.

Budget cuts three years ago caused Maryland’s fleet of eight C-130 cargo planes to fly away for good. Three smaller cargo planes were replacements but the Air Force soured on those and got rid of them all.

“There’s been a lot of turmoil,” said National Guard Major General James Adkins.

And the Guard’s 22 A-10s at Martin State are going away. Loved by the ground troops protected by their big gun, they’re being shot down by Pentagon generals who need cash to pay for other, newer planes.

The entire fleet of more than 300 are being retired. Then, this week, headquarters finally got good news about losing the A-10s.

“That they will be replaced by C-130Js,” Adkins said. “With all the appropriate manning to come back here to Warfield.”

Compared to the A-10s, it takes fewer people overall to operate these cargo giants but landing any replacement is a relief here. At least the Air National Guard will have something to fly.

“We’re proud to have flown those missions in combat but we have to be ready to go forward to the future,” Adkins said.

All of the change takes place in 2018 but is dependent on Congressional funding.

“We believe the [jets] are critical to the mission of the 175th Air Wing. It has been our top priority, it will remain our top priority and we will make sure that stays on target,” said Senator Ben Cardin.

Congress has in the past and may again overrule the Pentagon and not let them retire these popular and proficient planes. But since the cargo planes will replace the A-10s, no one can say if Maryland’s Air National Guard would ever go back to the way it was, hauling and protecting U.S. troops anywhere in the world.

Another bright spot for the Guard has landing a cybersecurity unit. Already there is talk about that unit expanding, bringing more soldiers and their families to Maryland.

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