UB plan pitched to help airbase
Tonawanda News — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., would like to see the University at Buffalo get involved in the effort to save the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station from closure.
In an announcement made Thursday, Schumer said he has urged the U.S. Air Force to enter into what he described as a “unique” partnership with UB and the airbase.
Schumer said he believes UB’s involvement could help improve Medivac technology, develop “cutting-edge” intelligence and surveillance methods and bolster border management efforts while helping to keep the base open.
“A cutting-edge research partnership between top scientists at University at Buffalo and Air Force located at the Niagara Falls Air Force Base is a match made in heaven,” Schumer said. “This potential partnership can create national centers of research and action that are critical both to Western New York and our national security, so I am urging the Air Force to forge a research partnership with UB that will simultaneously boost the Air Force’s mission and secure NFAR’s present in the region for years to come.”
Schumer has invited Gen. Norman Schwartz, chief of staff of the Air Force, to meet with him, Lt. Gen. Dr. Charles Green, Maj. Gen. William McCasland, Lt. Gen. Larry James and top researchers and leaders from UB to map out a research strategy.
“We have been working with Senator Schumer on ways that we can leverage the capabilities of the base and we are eager to explore partnership opportunities with the Air Force,” said Alexander Cartwright, vice president for research and economic development at UB.
The airbase is home to both the 107th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard and 914th Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve. With more than 3,000 full- and part-time employees and an $88 million payroll, the reserve station is Niagara County’s largest employer. The base’s future came into question in January when the Defense Department announced plans to scale back its budget for the next decade. The announcement included plans for the Air Force to retire 65 C-130 cargo planes like those housed at the Falls facility.
The base received a one-year reprieve from closure in May when federal lawmakers approved a version of the National Defense Authorization Act that contained language designed to protect Air Guard positions across the United States, including those stationed in Niagara Falls. The piece of legislation authorizes annual funding for the nation’s military.