Over 60 House members sent a letter May 8 to the leaders of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee (HAC-D) requesting an additional eight C-130J military transport aircraft be added to the markup of the fiscal year 2020 defense budget.

The C-130J Super Hercules, made by Lockheed Martin [LMT], would support the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve, the letter said. Forty-three House Republicans, 20 House Democrats and Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez (R) signed the letter.

A C-130J Super Hercules takes off at Camp Lemonnier, Africa, March 14, 2019. The C-130J is used in many operations at Camp Lemonnier to transport cargo and military members to locations throughout East Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)

Adding eight new C-130Js to the fleet “would continue the recapitalization of roughly half of the 160 legacy Air National Guard (ANG) and Air Force Reserve (AFR) C-130Hs,” the letter said. The lawmakers also request that the HASC and HAC-D committees urge the Defense Department to make the ANG and AFR Hercules aircraft recapitalization a funded program of record

Congress added 16 C-130Js in the last three annual defense bills to recapitalize two Air National Guard C-130H squadrons. The additional eight aircraft being requested “would keep production above minimum planned levels and keep the current phase of ANG/AFR C-130H recap moving into a third and fourth squadron.”

However, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) removed five planned MC-130Js from the FY ’20 request, and the planned funding for the Air National Guard and Air Force Research H model recapitalization was removed from the Future Years Defense Program in 2016 due to funding cuts, the letter said.

The C-130J is the only U.S. airlifter still in production, the lawmakers noted in their letter. “By design, the C-130J provides significant operational and support savings, more operational capability per aircraft, lower life-cycle costs, common logistics and training support, and improved active duty and air reserve component interoperability,” the letter said.

The House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee has scheduled markups for the FY ’20 defense appropriations bill the week of May 15. The House Armed Services Committee has scheduled subcommittee markup meetings June 4 and 5, while the full committee will consider the chairman’s mark June 12.