Governor Jack Dalrymple issued the following statement today in response to President Obama's proposed defense budget cuts, which include eliminating the C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft program:
"I recognize and appreciate that the Defense Department and the U.S. Air Force have difficult choices to make with regard to future budgeting, but eliminating the C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft program doesn't serve the best interests of the nation or North Dakota," Dalrymple said.
Congress appropriated funding for the C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft program in December, Dalrymple said.
"The C27J Spartan, scheduled to compliment North Dakota's 119th Air National Guard, is an important asset in our ability to defend our country and to respond to natural disasters," Dalrymple said. "Whether responding to ice storms or flooding, the C-27J provides the National Guard with the ability to deliver personnel and emergency supplies in an efficient and cost- effective manner.
"We will do all that we can to impress on the Department of Defense the essential role that this aircraft mission has in serving North Dakota and to get them to reconsider this proposal," Dalrymple said.
The North Dakota Air National Guard's 119th Wing in Fargo was scheduled to receive four C-27J Spartans in 2013. The "Happy Hooligans" are currently operating C-21 Lear Jets as interim aircraft after the Wing's F-16 Fighting Falcons were retired in 2007.
Dalrymple said President Obama's proposed defense cuts also call for a new round of base realignments and closures (BRAC). The Governor said if a BRAC round is set in motion, the state will again be prepared to fight for the continued operation of its military bases.