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Preferred aircraft basing alternatives released

WASHINGTON — Air Force officials released several announcements regarding five different aircraft July 29.

Michael Donley, the Secretary of the Air Force and Gen. Norton Schwartz, the chief of staff of the Air Force, approved C-27J operations and training candidate bases and announced the transition of Holloman Air Force Base to the F-16 Fighting Falcon training mission.

Air Force officials also announced the preferred alternatives for operational and training F-35 Lightning bases, announced Beale Air Force Base, Calif., as the preferred alternative basing option for the MC-12 Liberty and determined the most effective basing for the F-22 Raptor.

Training candidates for the C-27J Spartan are Key Field Air Guard Station, Miss., and Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport, Ohio. Operations candidates are Boise Air Terminal AGS, Idaho, and Great Falls International Airport, Mont.

Air Force officials will conduct site surveys at the candidate locations and initiate the environmental impact analysis process in preparation for a final selection.

Air Force officials determined that Holloman AFB has the capacity to accept two F-16 training squadrons and offers the ability to synergize training activities with MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper training occurring on the same base.

Transitioning Holloman AFB to F-16 training stabilizes an enduring training mission and capitalizes on the existing airspace and range complex.

Implementation of this action is subject to completion of appropriate environmental analysis.

Teams surveyed candidate bases for F-35 operational and training bases for feasibility, timing, cost and planning purposes to meet initial operational capability timelines and the preferred alternative locations for operations are Hill AFB, Utah, and Burlington Air Guard Station, Vt. The preferred alternative location for training is Luke AFB, Ariz.

“This is not a final basing decision,” said Kathleen Ferguson, the deputy assistant secretary for installations. “The preferred alternatives with other reasonable alternatives will continue to be evaluated in the Environmental Impact Analysis Process.”

Donley previously announced five operations candidate bases Oct. 29, 2009. They included Hill AFB; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; Shaw AFB/McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C.; Burlington Air Guard Station, Vt.; and Jacksonville AGS, Fla. The secretary also announced training base candidates Oct. 29, 2009. They included Boise AGS, Idaho; Eglin AFB, Fla.; Holloman AFB, N.M.; Luke AFB, Ariz.; and Tucson AGS, Ariz.

The current scope of this basing action includes 250 to 300 F-35 aircraft.

Beale AFB, Calif., was announced as the preferred alternative basing option for the MC-12. Secretary Donley previously approved six candidate bases, including Altus AFB, Okla.; Beale AFB, Calif.; Key Field Air National Guard Base, Miss.; Langley AFB, Va.; Robins AFB, Ga.; and Whiteman AFB, Mo.

“Beale (AFB) is the preferred alternative for basing the MC-12W aircraft, given its access to training opportunities, synergy with existing intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance flying missions, and collocation with the Distributed Ground Station mission,” Ferguson said.

Donley and Schwartz determined the most effective basing for the F-22. This requires redistributing aircraft from one F-22 squadron to units at four F-22 bases. A second squadron will be relocated to an existing F-22 base.

The affected bases are Holloman AFB, where one squadron will be deactivated. That squadron’s F-22s will be redistributed to other F-22 units. The remaining squadron will relocate to Tyndall AFB, Fla.

Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, will receive six additional aircraft; Langley AFB, Va., will receive six additional aircraft; and Nellis AFB, Nev., will receive two additional aircraft.

“This plan maximizes combat aircraft and squadrons available for contingencies,” Ferguson said. “By consolidating aircraft at existing bases, F-22 operational flexibility is enhanced.”