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.


 
 

 
Navy photograph

USS Roosevelt marks 200,000 trap

Navy photograph An F/A-18F Super Hornet flown by Capt. Daniel Grieco, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), and Capt. Benjamin Hewlett, deputy commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, complet...
 
 
Navy photograph by PO1 William Larned

USS California returns from maiden deployment

Navy photograph by PO1 William Larned The Virginia-class attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) returns from its maiden deployment to its homeport at Naval Submarine Base New London. Under the command of Cmdr. Shawn Huey, Ca...
 
 
Army photograph

Army proves new watercraft capabilities

Army photograph Marine Corps assets are loaded onto the USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak (T-AK 3005), from an U.S. Army Landing Craft Utility, or LCU, USAV Port Hudson during port operations, at White Beach Naval Base, Jan. 22, 2015. Sold...
 

 
Army photograph by Kashia Simmons

Improved Army system, training to increase vigilance

Army photograph by Kashia Simmons Vigilant Pursuit provides dedicated tactical pursuit vehicle-mounted and dismounted assets that utilize cutting-edge technologies, enabling Signal Intelligence, or SIGINT, and Human Intelligenc...
 
 
Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards

ANG conducts air refueling training with NATO allies in Germany

Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards A NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft approaches a Utah Air National Guard KC-135R Stratotanker for air refueling during a training flight over Germany on Jan. 13, 2015. Nearly 30 airme...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales

Ramstein Airmen train with French air force

Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales Two U.S. Air Force pilots and a French air force navigator discuss the route to the drop zone during a simulated low-level drop Jan. 21, 2015, at Orleans – Bricy Air...
 




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>