The House of Representatives last week voted to pass a provision authored by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) that would halt the Army’s retirement of 34 C-23 Sherpa aircraft needed by the Army National Guard in Oregon and throughout the country. The amendment was successfully added to the Fiscal Year 2014 Defense Appropriations bill by a vote of 264 to 154.
“The National Guard relies on C-23 Sherpa aircraft for a variety of uses and they’re especially important for missions stateside,” said Bonamici. “These small cargo aircraft transported relief supplies and personnel after Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. They support Special Operations missions and training, and they aid the Guard in fighting wildfires. Replacing the use of C-23’s with aircraft that are twice as expensive and not as effective would be a big mistake. This is a victory for the National Guard in Oregon and throughout the Country.”
For the past three years, Congress has acted to prevent the Army from retiring the aircraft, but the planes were moved to flyable storage, preventing their use. Bonamici’s amendment goes beyond previous efforts by allocating funding to support the continued operation and maintenance of the aircraft.
The Amendment was supported by the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS). Retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., president of the NGAUS wrote in a letter endorsing the amendment that “despite opposition from governors around the country, the Army wants to eliminate the Sherpa, even though the suggested replacement aircraft is more expensive to operate and less suitable for carrying out the Guard’s missions.”