On August 14, the US Air Force (USAF) announced plans to equip Air National Guard (ANG) bases in Florida and Oregon – which operate F-15C/D Eagle fighters – with F-35As and F-15EXs from 2022.
The service outlined that Kingsley Field, Oregon, will be the first base to receive the new fighters in 2022 and it will host the USAF’s first F-15EX formal training mission. Portland Air National Guard Base (ANGB), also in Oregon, will be home to the first operational F-15EX squadron from 2023. In 2024, Jacksonville ANGB in Florida will receive its first F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation multirole stealth fighters.
Lt Gen Mike Loh, director of the ANG, said: “The Air National Guard has consistently stepped up to meet the challenges of countless national contingencies over recent years… Transitioning to these new weapon systems will maintain our effectiveness as a member of the Total Air Force into the future.”
This move comes as the USAF seeks to withdraw its ageing F-15C/D Eagle fleets by the mid-2020s, replacing the aircraft with the air force’s latest fighter aircraft. The service also seeks to replace the F-15C/Ds based at Barnes Airport in Massachusetts; Fresno Yosemite Airport, California; and Naval Air Station (NAS) Joint Reserve Base (JRB) New Orleans in Louisiana. The USAF is also considering basing F-35As at NAS Lemoore, California.
Before making a final decision on the additional bases, the USAF will conduct an environment impact analysis process. This comprises site surveys that will assess the potential impacts to existing mission sets, operational requirements, base infrastructure, manpower and costs relating to basing the new aircraft at these locations.