The type of aircraft flown by Fort Wayne's Air National Guard base remains up for debate.
Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, the adjutant general for the Indiana National Guard, said Tuesday he and other Guard leaders have rejected an Air Force proposal to replace combat jets at the 122nd Fighter Wing with propeller planes used for transporting troops and cargo.
Umbarger said the switch would require a costly renovation at the base, noting that a large airlift craft such as the C-130 "wouldn't even fit into a hangar" at the Ferguson Road complex.
Instead, the Air National Guard is pressing to either keep its A-10 squadron or return to the F-16 jet fighters it flew before converting to the A-10s in recent years, according to Umbarger and Rep. Mike Pence, R-6th.
"This is a fighter base, and I think it's important that Fort Wayne dig in and make the case for this continuing to be a fighter base for many years to come," Pence, the Republican candidate for governor, said at a news conference during his tour of the base.
As part of a nationwide plan to cut $50 billion in costs, the Air Force proposed in February to replace about 20 A-10 jets at the Fort Wayne base with half as many MC-12W propeller planes used for intelligence and surveillance.
Pence called that plan "penny wise and pound foolish," saying Air National Guard bases cost far less to operate than active-duty Air Force bases.
"We are in the midst of a process. We are in the midst of a discussion, and that involves proposals and counterproposals," Pence said about the Air Force budget, which requires congressional approval.
For more on this story, see Wednesday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m. Wednesday.