Senate committee passes CAFB funding

Freedom New Mexico

WASHINGTON – A supplemental spending package that includes funding for special operations aircraft tied to Cannon Air Force Base was approved Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The bill, which is primarily designed to support U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, also incorporates FY2009 supplemental “bridge” funding for combat operations.

The measure provides $349 million to procure five CV-22 Osprey aircraft, as well as $1.8 billion for 18 C-130J and seven MC-130J aircraft, according to press releases from New Mexico Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici’s offices.

“This Senate bill does not specifically assign aircraft to specific bases, but the types of aircraft funded are those that will benefit AFSOC and other Air Force missions in New Mexico, including CV-22s and C-130s that are eventually slated for Cannon,” said Domenici, who serves on the appropriations committee.

“This Osprey funding would allow AFSOC to accelerate its fielding of CV-22s by several years, possibly enabling Cannon to receive its full complement of CV-22s a year earlier. And I expect that five of the MC-130Js would be assigned to Cannon,” Domenici said.

Bingaman reported five MC-130J model Combat Talon II will be headed to Cannon. The bill also sets aside enough funding for five CV-22s for Cannon, each will cost in excess of $80 million, according to Bingaman.

The measure also contains $8 million for construction of a childcare facility, which is critically important to the quality of life for families at the base.

“This bill would invest millions of dollars in Cannon Air Force Base, ensuring that it is ready for the personnel and families who are part of the new Air Force Special Operations Command mission,” Bingaman said.

The bill now moves to the Senate floor for consideration.

Air Force Special Operations Command authorized a plan Monday that would move the 16th Special Operations Squadron from Hurlburt Field, Fla., to Cannon Air Force Base, according to a press release from the AFSOC public affairs office.

Approximately 600 positions and eight AC-130H aircraft will be moved to Cannon, the release said.

A small number of the initial cadre from the 16th SOS will arrive at Cannon this summer, with a majority of the squadron to begin moving in April 2009, the release said. The transfer of people and aircraft should be completed by November 2009.