The Air National Guard has announced which bases will receive the Air Force’s newest fighter jets, as it retires aging F-15C Eagles.
Jacksonville Air National Guard Base in Florida will receive the F-35A in 2024, the guard said in an Aug. 14 release.
And two bases in Oregon — Kingsley Field and Portland Air National Guard Base — will be among the first to host the F-15EX, the updated and upgraded version of the Strike Eagle now under production. Kingsley will host the Air Force’s first formal F-15EX training mission in 2022. And in 2023, Portland will become the first base to host an operational F-15EX squadron.
The Air National Guard dd not specify how many aircraft would arrive at each base.
F-15Cs like those at the Oregon and Florida bases are expected to reach the end of their service life in the mid-2020s, the guard said in the release.
“The Air National Guard has consistently stepped up to meet the challenges of countless national contingencies over recent years,” Air National Guard director Lt. Gen. Mike Loh said. “Transitioning to these new weapon systems will maintain our effectiveness as a member of the total Air Force into the future.”
The Air Force last month announced that the 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida will receive the first two F-15EXs in early 2021, and was preparing for roughly a year and a half of initial testing.
The Air National Guard also said that the rest of its operational F-15C and D bases — at Barnes Airport in Massachusetts, Fresno Yosemite Airport in California, and Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans in Louisiana — will have those fighters replaced by either the F-15EX or the F-35A. And the guard is considering stationing F-35As at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California, the guard said in the release.
The guard’s next steps will be to conduct surveys on the ground at those bases to figure out whether they should get the F-35 or F-15EX to replace the F-15C. Those site surveys will consider what the base’s operational requirements are, how bringing these new planes on might affect existing missions, infrastructure and manpower needs, and costs, the release said.
The Air Force will also conduct an environmental impact study before making any decisions, the guard said.
The Air Force has previously named four active-duty bases — Hill Air Force Base in Utah, RAF Lakenheath in England, Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida — as homes for the F-35A.
Three Air National Guard installations — Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont, Dannelly Field in Alabama, and Truax Field in Wisconsin — as well as one Air Force Reserve location, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Texas, were also picked to host the F-35A.
Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.