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Dec. 14, 2009—The Air Force, Army, and community and industry partners last week celebrated the opening at Robins AFB, Ga., of a $1.8 million training center that will serve, at least for now, as home to C-27J aircrew training in place of the previous interim site in Waco, Tex.

On that same day, Dec. 9, the first class of airmen who will operate the new airlifter for the Air National Guard graduated from this new schoolhouse.

Housed in a former B-1B bomber building of the Air Guard, the center offers classroom instruction and will feature a full-fidelity operational flight trainer, and a fuselage trainer, when fully equipped in 2011, said L-3 Communications, lead C-27J contractor, in a release.

During the next two years, 24 pilots and 24 loadmasters are expected to graduate from the schoolhouse annually. At peak levels in about five years, 144 airmen will pass through it each year.

Training actually began at Robins in September with the arrival of the first of the schoolhouse's two C-27Js, according to Air Force officials. Prior to that, it had been taking place at L-3's Waco facility.

The Air Force plans to procure 38 C-27Js for the Air Guard, which will operate them starting next year in intratheater roles. The C-27J is smaller than the C-130 transport.

The advent of C-27J training at Robins is "an exciting announcement for middle Georgia,” said Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) in a Dec. 10 release about the opening celebration. He said the center brings 41 direct aerospace industry jobs to the base.

Air Force spokesman Gary Strasburg cautioned that news of the opening celebration does not equate to Robins being chosen as the ultimate long-term beddown site for C-27J training. Those deliberations are still ongoing, he told the Daily Report Dec. 11.

(See also this report from the Dec. 11 issue of the Robins Rev Up.)