BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                      



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                   AJR 31|
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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  AJR 31
          Author:   Perea (D)
          Amended:  As introduced
          Vote:     21

           
           SUBJECT  :    144th Fighter Wing

           SOURCE  :     Author


           DIGEST  :    This resolution requests Congress and the 
          Department of Defense to remain committed to maintaining 
          the 144th Fighter Wing and the Aerospace Control Alert 
          mission in California, in order to prevent any negative 
          impacts to Southwest air defense operations, the California 
          economy, and the ability of first responders to protect the 
          residents of this state.

           ANALYSIS  :    The California Air National Guard 144th 
          Fighter Wing located in Fresno is composed of 1,046 airmen, 
          22 F-16 aircraft and one RC-26 Intelligence, Surveillance 
          and Reconnaissance aircraft. 

          The primary mission of the 144th is to provide Air 
          Superiority worldwide in support of joint operations and 
          Aerospace Control Alert (ACA) for the Southwest United 
          States.  The ACA mission requires the Wing to maintain a 
          number of aircraft ready for immediate launch to intercept 
          air threats to the United States, 24/7/365.  Aircraft on 
          alert are positioned at Fresno and March Air Reserve Base 
          at Riverside.  The Wing is responsible for the air defense 
          from the Mexican border to Oregon, from the western sea 
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          lanes and inland to include Reno, Las Vegas, and western 
          Arizona. 

          Airmen from the 144th also deploy in support of overseas 
          operations including civil engineering, communications, 
          maintenance, logistics, security and medical.  The Wing 
          also provides those capabilities to support civilian first 
          responders throughout the state and Federal Emergency 
          Management Agency (FEMA) Region IX.

           Aircraft Conversion  .  Aircraft conversion at the 144th Wing 
          involves replacing the F-16 aircraft with the F-15 aircraft 
          in order to provide a better platform to conduct the air 
          superiority and air defense missions.  The conversion to 
          F-15 aircraft is programmed as part of the FY 2012 defense 
          budget.  

          The 144th Fighter Wing has been preparing facilities, 
          maintenance, and support functions for several years.  More 
          than half of the support equipment required for the F-15 
          conversion is on hand and maintenance training began in 
          May.  The delegation supported the military construction 
          money that the FY 2010 budget appropriated for the 144th 
          Fighter Wing for its operations facility.  The Wing has 
          already trained five pilots to fly the F-15, has four 
          scheduled to begin training in July, and has hired four 
          experienced F-15 pilots.  The Environmental Impact Study is 
          on schedule and will be completed by July 15, 2012.  The 
          first of 21 assigned F-15 aircraft are scheduled to arrive 
          at Fresno on August 15, 2012.  The Wing will have 18 F-15 
          aircraft by January 31, 2013, with the balance arriving by 
          May.  Arizona will be receiving California's F-16s. 

           FY 2013 Proposed Fielding Changes  .  The Air Force's 
          proposed FY 2013 budget directly impacts aircraft 
          conversion and fielding plans in the Montana Air National 
          Guard and Texas Air National Guard, thus affecting 
          California.  
           
          Aircraft fielding for the Montana Air National Guard 
          originally entailed sending them C-27J Spartan aircraft, 
          however the Air Force's proposed FY 2013 budget includes 
          divesting the already purchase aircraft.  The Air Force 
          then proposed that Montana receive a C-130 airlift 

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          capability mission from Texas as an alternative.  This 
          alternative is part of the President's 2013 proposed 
          budget.  The Texas delegation has already opposed this move 
          by arguing that it will cost the Air Force $100 million and 
          reduce their response capability to state emergencies. 

          The Montana delegation and its Air National Guard have 
          tried to fight the transfer of F-15s to the California 
          National Guard in the past.  Their actions delayed the 
          process for conversion to the new aircraft at Fresno.  They 
          are likely to resist letting the aircraft go without a 
          replacement aircraft mission.

           Comments
           
          According to the author's office, closing the 144th Fighter 
          Wing in Fresno and backfilling the Wing's air defense 
          mission would create unnecessary and negative impacts to 
          Southwest air defense operations, and the national and 
          local economies.  

           Economic Loss  .  Pursuing this course of action could 
          significantly impact the economies of Fresno and Riverside. 
           The Air Force spends over $70 million dollars per year on 
          the 144th, whose base equipment, infrastructure, and 
          aircraft total $471 million.  The 144th Fighter Wing 
          employs 1,046 airmen with 1,642 dependents.  The area 
          around Fresno suffers from current unemployment rates 
          between 15 percent and 19 percent, more than double the 
          national unemployment rate.  

           Cost to Federal Government  .  There will be significant 
          operational costs associated with conducting an air defense 
          alert site for the Southwest United States from outside 
          California.  Conservative estimates place the cost at 
          $550,000 to $1.2 million for just travel and per diem to 
          rotate personnel to their assignments.  An extra $1-1.2 
          million in flying hours will be required to ferry out of 
          state aircraft to the alert site after routine maintenance. 
           Additional costs would be incurred for fixing aircraft 
          away from its home station including the shipment of 
          equipment and supplies.  

           Risk to Homeland Defense  .  Operationally, the California 

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          Air National Guard has the second busiest Aerospace Control 
          Alert mission in the U.S. behind the National Capitol 
          Region.  NORTHCOM establishes specific timelines and 
          criteria to protect major population centers and their 
          approaches into the United States.  The initiative to 
          divest the 144th Fighter Wing would eliminate an air 
          defense base consisting of 22 jets and replace it with two 
          out-of-state detachments consisting of six jets 
          significantly reducing response time to increased threats.  


          From their locations within California, the 144th can 
          respond immediately to an air defense threat with six jets, 
          and launch an additional 12 jets in less than six hours.  
          Out of state units would require 24-72 hours to mobilize 
          additional aircraft, personnel, and equipment during an 
          emergency to the Southwest region. 

           Risk to Civil Support  .  California will lose valuable 
          civilian support capabilities and personnel trained and 
          ready for a variety of domestic emergencies.  Law 
          enforcement, fire, and other agencies frequently rely on 
          the Wing's ground capabilities which include:  civil 
          engineering, explosive ordnance disposal, communications, 
          aerial imaging, maintenance, logistics, and medical.  In 
          addition, the 144th's security force teams are integral to 
          California National Guard's immediate response capability 
          to support civilian first responders.  Two other unique 
          capabilities reside at Fresno as well.

          The 144th Fighter Wing is the home of the medical component 
          of FEMA Region IX's Homeland Response Force.  The medical 
          element contains a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, 
          Nuclear and Enhanced Explosives Response Force Package 
          which has a strong and well-exercised relationship with 
          first responders throughout the state.  The Wing also has 
          an Urban Search and Rescue team.

          The proposal to divest the 144th Fighter Wing is costly, 
          places the Southwest air defense mission at risk, and 
          eliminates the ground capabilities available to support 
          first responders throughout the state and FEMA Region IX.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Fiscal Com.:  No

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          RM:do  3/14/12   Senate Floor Analyses 

                       SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  NONE RECEIVED

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