Air Force announces basing decisions for newest weapons systems

An F-16 Fighting Falcon from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., taxis Oct. 5, 2016 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. Twelve aircraft relocated here due to Hurricane Matthew's anticipated landfall. The base serves as a safe haven for military aircraft that are in the path of the hurricane. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Melissa Harvey)
An F-16 Fighting Falcon from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., taxis Oct. 5, 2016 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. Twelve aircraft relocated here due to Hurricane Matthew’s anticipated landfall. The base serves as a safe haven for military aircraft that are in the path of the hurricane. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Melissa Harvey)


The Air Force announced today through several news releases where its newest airframes will be stationed.

According to the Air Force, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, as the preferred location for the first Air Force Reserve-led F-35 base, which is expected to begin receiving its first F-35As in the mid-2020s.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona; Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida; and Whiteman AFB, Missouri, will be considered as reasonable alternatives during the environmental analysis process, which must be completed before the Air Force makes a final basing decision.

“We selected the Air Force Reserve unit in Fort Worth because it is the location that meets all of the necessary training requirements at the lowest cost,” said outgoing Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. “Additionally, the location will provide mission synergy and access to an experienced workforce for recruiting as a result of its proximity to the F-35 manufacturing plant.”

The Air Force has also announced it’s selected Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, as the preferred location to base a new MQ-9 Reaper group, including mission control elements.

Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona; Moody AFB, Georgia; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; and Offutt AFB, Nebraska, were named as reasonable alternatives and will be considered as part of the environmental impact analysis process.

“Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance continues to be the number one most requested capability of combatant commanders and I believe adding additional RPA locations will help our efforts to retain experienced RPA operators that contribute to this vital mission,” James said.

The Air Force’s newest tanker airframe will find homes in familiar territory for tanker ops.

The Air Force said it’s selected Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, New Jersey, and Travis Air Force Base, California, as the preferred locations for the next two active-duty-led KC-46A Pegasus bases.

Twenty-four KC-46A aircraft will replace the legacy aircraft currently at each of those bases.

“Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst and Travis AFB were chosen as the next two active-duty-led KC-46A bases because they meet all operational mission requirements at the best value for the Air Force and the American taxpayer and support our tanker recapitalization strategy,” said James. “It is absolutely essential that we continue investing in the next generation of tanker aircraft so we have the aircraft necessary to maintain the nation’s global reach for years to come.”

Fairchild AFB, Washington, and Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota, will be considered as reasonable alternatives during the environmental impact analysis process, which is required before a final basing decision is made.

At this time, the Air Force is planning to divest the legacy tankers after growing the tanker fleet to meet its 479 tanker requirement. The timeline is dependent on the KC-46A delivery schedule, but it is not anticipated to reach sufficient KC-46A fleet size and begin legacy divestment at the first location until 2019.

“The KC-46 will afford combatant commanders extended refueling capabilities, improved global reach, and enable timely joint-service response to humanitarian crises and contingency operations around the world,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “In fact in the fight against (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), the Air Force and joint and coalition partners depend on gas from our tankers. In 2016, the coalition flew over 13,600 tanker sorties, fueling aircraft nearly 80,000 times, delivering about 800-million pounds of fuel.”

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