Proposal Could Cut 3,400 Jobs at Eglin AFB

It's the kind of news that sends a cold chill up the spines of local military commanders, and business leaders alike.

The Air Force is considering a plan to cut some major programs at Eglin Air Force Base. Business leaders say the realignments would be a huge blow to the entire Northwest Florida region.

Eglin officials confirmed there is talk of cuts and realignments, but wouldn't discuss specifics, but sources at the base say the cuts would involve the 46th test wing.

The 46th is the Air Force's major program for testing aircraft. The wing operates F-15s, F-16s and A-10s. All of those aircraft would reportedly be sent to Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The 46th also operates the McKinley Climatic Laboratory. The huge facility can simulate almost most any extreme weather conditions in nature, to see how military equipment and vehicles perform. Under the proposal, that too would shut down.

If the cuts go through, it could mean the loss of as many as 1,900 military and 1,500 civilian jobs.

The civilian jobs are high-paying positions.

Ted Corcoran, President of the Ft. Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, says that would be a blow to the local economy.

The bad part seems to be the type of quality of work it's taking out. It is going to be the higher essential engineering types of jobs and maybe replaced with some lower paying type jobs that the Air Force might have."

At this point the cuts are just a proposal and many feel they'll never come to fruition, but Corcoran says they’re not taking anything for granted.

"We love the military. Not just Eglin, but Hurlburt, Duke Field, as certainly all of our Armed Forces, and anytime we lose some component of that it's initially going to be a detriment to us, and that's the way were looking at it right now. It's a surprise for us we'll see what happens."

Eglin, which is the world’s largest Air Force Base, is also home to the Air Force's 308th and 328th Armament Systems Wings and the 329th Armament Systems Group. None of those programs have been mentioned in the proposals.