CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) - A plan announced by the Air Force Reserve Command would transfer 8 C-5M planes out of Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee by 2016.
According to a news release sent to 22News by the base, the aircraft would be moved from Westover to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas. The eight aircraft being moved constitute half of the C-5s at Westover. The remaining eight planes would be given $90 million in upgrades.
Any movement of aircraft out of Westover could have a significant impact on the region. Westover's economic impact is about $238 million every year. The base employs about 5,500 people, and while it would remain open, it is unclear just how many people would be affected by the cuts.
"All of these things are just going on as usual, so even under the cut, Westover remains active, vital, viable," said Lt. Col. James Bishop of Westover Public Affairs.
Colonel Steven Vautrain, Commander of the 439th Airlift Wing, says that the proposed changes would have an impact on the base, but it also serves to highlight how important Westover is in the country's defense.
"Under this announcement, the 439th remains operational and vital to military strategic airlift. We will notify the public when a final decision is made concerning the future number of aircraft and personnel at Westover," Vautrain said.
The plan, is not a done deal, and is contingent upon further study by the Military.
The announcement about the came as part of a larger restructuring plan, which includes the retirement and transfer of dozens of other aircraft at bases across the country.
"In a difficult economy, the Air Force has to make tough choices," said Maj. Gen. Craig Gourley, vice commander of Air Force Reserve Command in a separate news release.
"These force structure changes will take place over the next three years and are necessary to help meet Budget Control Act of 2011 resource levels."
The C-5 is the largest aircraft used by the U.S. Military.