Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Vienna

Senators Announce $8.7 Million to Widen Youngstown Air Base Runway

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sherrod Brown, D- Ohio, announced Wednesday that the Youngstown Air Reserve Station has obtained authorization to receive $8.7 million to widen its assault runway.

The project will allow C-17 and C-130 pilots to perform required training landings in the Mahoning Valley, improving both military readiness as well as strengthening the base’s strategic viability for decades to come. 

The funding was authorized through the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.

 “I am pleased that funding to widen the assault runway located at YARS has passed as part of our annual defense authorization bill,” Portman said in a statement.

“Currently, due to scheduling delays, clogged runways, and increased costs due to the required additional fuel consumption, YARS aircraft and crews must travel to Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina to perform required training landings,” he continued. “This funding will allow our YARS servicemen and women to conduct this vital training in the Mahoning Valley. As the largest employer in Trumbull County, YARS has had a significant economic impact on the region, deployed its resources to those in need across the globe, and defended the values we hold dearest as Americans.” 

Added Brown, “Widening the runway at Youngstown Air Reserve Station is a crucial investment in the infrastructure, that will improve training and highlight how important the Mahoning Valley is to our national defense. These critical upgrades help to support those who have sworn to protect us.”

Brown and Portman last year introduced an amendment to the 2021 Defense Authorization Act requiring Defense to provide Congress with a cost and benefit report of maintaining a specific number of primary aircraft for each type of Air Force squadron, particularly those that fly specialty missions flown by reserve units, such as the 910th Airlift Wing at Youngstown.

U.S. Rep Tim Ryan, D-13, also helped secure the funding through the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. The funding is contained in the 2022 Milcon-VA Appropriations Bill, which Ryan would like to see passed by Congress early next year.

In June, Portman visited the air reserve station and met with the new commander, Colonel Jeff Van Dootingh, members of the Wing Command, and representatives from the Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission to discuss the importance of the air base to the Mahoning Valley and the country.  

Portman has urged the Air Force to replace the 910th Airlift Wing’s current fleet of C-130H aircraft with new C-130J aircraft to ensure that the 910th’s specialized aerial spray mission continues safely and without interruption, the senator’s office said. In 2020, the senator advocated that the Air Force and Department of Defense assign four new C130J aircrafts to the base.

In 2018, the senator announced that the 2019 Defense Appropriations bill included $8.8 million to relocate the main gate at the air base to improve security and the flow of people and cargo on and off the facility.

In 2016, the president signed into law Portman’s legislation requiring the Air Force to prioritize C-130 upgrades for YARS, an upgrade that would strengthen its mission capabilities. In 2015, Portman helped secure the $9.4 million in funding to upgrade the base’s indoor firing range facility.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.