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Multi-Million Dollar Hangar Sits Empty - John Dunn

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A massive building that cost millions of tax dollars to build is sitting empty. FOX 17 News is following the money, and how it was used to build an aircraft hangar for the Tennessee Air National Guard.
      
C-130's used to fill the tarmac at Nashville's Berry Field. The planes were a key asset for Tennessee's Air National Guard, and a giant hangar was built in 2005 to maintain them. "That building over there, not only could it hold C-130's, but it could hold a C-17," says Tennessee Adjutant General Max Haston.

The aircraft flew countless successful missions, but in 2012 military leaders decided to move all of the C-130's out of Nashville. Today the tarmac is empty. "At one time Nashville had 20 C-130's over there, then it went down to 10, then it went to 8, then it went to nothing," says Maj. General Max Haston.

There are no planes at Berry Field, and the multi-million dollar state-of-the-art hangar has been sitting empty for more than a year. "If I don't put something in that hangar, I'm wasting $28 million," says Maj. General Haston.

So how does this problem get fixed? The Army National Guard has helicopters in Smyrna, but the hangars are in bad shape. The idea is to move the helicopters from Smyrna to Nashville. Fixing the Smyrna hangars would cost $72 million, and at a time when the defense department is trying to cut its budget, the money is not available.

Moving the aircraft comes with challenges. The helicopters belong to the Army and Berry Field is an Air Force Base, which would require a joint command. Beaurocracy could get in the way.

Major General Max Haston knows it's the right choice for taxpayers. "It saves the taxpayers $28 million for a hangar that we've already got, that's already paid for, versus having to build $72 million in Smyrna," says Maj. General Haston.

For now the gleaming floors sit empty. The hang-up over the multi-million dollar hangar goes on.

It's possible the military could make the decision to move the helicopters to Nashville by this summer. This all comes at a time when the 118th Wing is losing another unit.  The aeromedical squadron is being shut down, which affects 101 airmen.

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