JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - The 117th Refueling Wing of the Air National Guard wants to increase its chances against another round of base closures.
The 117th Refueling Wing is important to Jefferson County. The unit employs 1,800 people. Col. Scott Gr ant, the 117th commander, went before the Jefferson County Commission this week to see if they would help with some of the $3.5 million for a flight simulator.
"We need to be able push more training into a simulator. For you as taxpayers, you need us to do that because we need those weapon systems to last as long as possible," Col. Gr ant said.
At this time, pilots have to travel as far away as California for the training. A recent assessment of the base found a flight simulator could help keep the base open.
"You know what you can increase your military value by having a flight simulator at the 117th as a center for excellence for training for this region," Col. Grant said.
Jefferson County Commissioners understand they will have to find some funding to help out the 117th.
"We are talking about jobs and we are talking about commerce. But, on top of that, we are talking about securing the future of our country," Jefferson Co. Commission President Jimmie Stephens said.
While the 117h is not on any chopping block right now, local leaders want to make sure everyone knows how important this base truly is. Birmingham and the Birmingham Business Alliance are being asked to also help with the funding effort.