Defense

October 4, 2013

Air Force scraps F-16 Alaska transfer plan

Mark Thiessen
Associated Press

The U.S. Air Force is scrapping its plan to move a fighter jet squadron to Anchorage from Fairbanks, and will not put Eielson Air Force Base in part-time status, Alaska’s congressional delegation announced Oct. 2.

U.S. Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski made the announcement on a joint teleconference with U.S. Rep. Don Young, all of whom had joined community leaders in protesting the plan since the Air Force first announced it nearly two years ago.

This was a decision that was clearly in the best interest of Alaska and the Air Force, Murkowski said shortly after the delegation was informed of the decision by Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning and Pacific Air Forces Gen. Hawk Carlisle

A message left by The Associated Press after business hours with the Department of Defense was not immediately returned.

The Air Force had proposed moving 21 F-16 fighter jets comprising the 18th Fighter Aggressor Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage in a move that would save the Air Force about $200 million. It would also require relocating about 1,200 military members and family to Anchorage.

The proposal drew protests from community members in Fairbanks, North Pole and Salcha, saying the move would be devastating to the local economy. Anchorage leaders also wondered where those relocated would find housing in an already-tight market.

Murkowski said Air Force leaders told them they were reversing course for three reasons. One was to reaffirm the significance of Eielson Air Force base to both Alaska and the Pacific Theater. She said leaders also indicated that not only would the cost savings estimate not be realized, but the move would come at a cost to the military. The third reason given was that the Air Force noted the impact it would have on the Alaska communities involved.

Murkowski credited military leaders for going back and revisiting what they heard from community members at several town hall meetings. That can be tough to do, she said.

The Defense Department had previously recommended Eielson for warm status, a part-time base where squadrons from other bases could use for training after moving the jets.

Begich said this is not a one-year decision, but a long-term win for Eielson after military leaders rebalanced bases in the Pacific region. Eielson is a critical part of that, proven by this decision today, he said.

Young said the importance of Alaska’s location cannot be overlooked, with quick access to Europe and Asia.
We are always going to sit on the same place on the globe, Murkowski said, noting they may have to re-educate future military and congressional leaders of that. We have a strategic advantage, that’s a constant.

All three also noted what they called Alaska’s unequaled space for training both in the air and on the ground.

The Air Force Oct. 3 could release criteria for where it will eventually locate an F-35 squadron. Begich said he’s hopeful they will find a home at Eielson and training partners with the F-16s.

We’re willing and waiting, said Fairbanks Mayor Jerry Cleworth.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 18, 2014

Business: Lockheed to Lose 17 F-35s Under Automatic Pentagon Cuts - Pentagon will cut 17 of the 343 F-35 fighters it planned to buy from Lockheed Martin in fiscal 2016 through 2019 unless Congress repeals automatic budget cuts, according to a new Defense Department report. DOD looking for ways not to break MH-60R helo deal - The...
 
 

News Briefs April 18, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,177 As of April 15, 2014, at least 2,177 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,802 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 
LM-F35-hours

F-35 fleet surpasses 15,000 flying hours

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fleet recently surpassed 15,000 flight hours, marking a major milestone for the program.  “Flying 15,000 hours itself demonstrates that the program is maturing, but what I think is e...
 

 
nasa-cassini

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of new Saturn moon

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons. Images taken w...
 
 

NASA completes LADEE mission with planned impact on Moon’s surface

Ground controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon, as planned, between 9:30 and 10:22 p.m., PDT, April 17. LADEE lacked fuel to maintain a long-term lunar orbit or continue science operations and was intentionally sent...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Kepler telescope discovers first Earth-size planet in ‘habitable zone’

Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four inner planets, seen lined up...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>