SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

F-16s to Stay Put in Alaska


April 14, 2015
Tuesday PM

(SitNews) - Alaska’s Congressional Delegation received good news today, as U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah James called each of them to announce that the F-16 Aggressor Squadron will remain at Eielson Air Force Base located 23 miles south of Fairbanks for the long-term future. When the U.S. Air Force announced that Eielson was the preferred location for two squadrons of F-35s, it began a nationwide review of whether the F-16s should stay there after the arrival of the F-35s or be considered for moves to either Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage or Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

Alaska Governor Bill Walker (I) praised the United States Air Force for two announcements: its decision to keep the 18th Aggressor Squadron F-16s at Eielson Air Force Base (AFB) and the commencement of an environmental review process to station two F-35A Lightning squadrons at Eielson.

“This is great news for Alaska, given our strategic location in the world,” Governor Walker said. “Having these F-16 fighter aircraft, at the ready, here in the Interior of Alaska, enhances our nation’s overall readiness.”

“Flying out of Eielson, planes can respond more quickly to hot spots in Asia, the Middle East or Europe,” Governor Walker said. “Alaskans are ready, and excited, to accept the F-35 mission. Both of these announcements are good news for the Interior, where many Air Force families are a vital part of the community.”

“America needs Eielson, and America needs Alaska now more than ever with our westward focus and increased aggression by rogue nations like North Korea, Russia and Iran,” said Senator LisaMurkowski (R-AK). “Though the two squadrons of F-35s headed to Eielson gave the Pentagon a reason to re-evaluate the distribution of their assets, we once again feel vindicated that our state, our welcoming military community, our location, and our natural environmental assets make Alaska second to none.”

"Today’s announcement is great news for Eielson, for Alaska, and for the security of our nation. Given Russia’s recent resurgence and Putin’s aggressive moves into the Arctic, keeping the 18th Aggressors at Eielson is more important than ever,” said U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK). “Many decades ago, General Billy Mitchell noted Alaska’s unique strategic location. I am greatly pleased to see the Air Force heed his advice and go all-in on Alaska. With our training ranges, our location, and our love of those who serve this country, Alaska will continue to be the best – and most strategic – place for our Air Force and our Airmen.”

“Today’s announcement by the Air Force is fantastic news for Fairbanks, North Pole, and the entire nation. This decision reaffirms Alaska’s strategic role in defending our nation as well as the incredible training areas Alaska has to offer our military,” said Congressman Don Young (R-AK). “Combining the F-35 with the F-16 Aggressor Squadron at Eielson is a win-win for everyone involved. This is an example of logic prevailing, which is becoming exceptionally rare in the federal government.”

Today’s news is the result of a strategic basing evaluation of aircraft and manpower balance nationwide by the Air Force, given the global military circumstances and the Pentagon’s priorities – a process in which the delegation strongly vocalized the view of Alaskans that the state’s geographic position and the Department of Defense’s Asia-Pacific focus made the decision simple.

“This is the culmination of years of hard work by federal, state, and local leaders to build strong case for keep the squadron at Eielson Air Force Base,” said JASC Co-Chair John Coghill (R-North Pole). “Representative LeDoux and I, as Co-chairs of JASC, will continue to support the military all around the state.”

Eielson AFB is at the forefront of protecting US interests in the Pacific Theater and serves a critical function in reinforcing the region. With 63,000 square miles of airspace over diverse terrain and extreme temperature differences, it provides the ideal location to train US Air Forces to handle almost all situations and conditions. It also has adjacent access to the largest joint air and land training range and largest unrestricted airspace in the United States. Further, Eielson has a large fuel storage capacity, and a runway capable of handling the armed forces’ largest aircraft year-round.

“I would like to thank the Air Force, all those who teamed up on the local level, and our Congressional Delegation for fighting to keep this critical squadron at Eielson Air Force Base,” said Senator Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks). “Eielson is critical for national security and provides unparalleled training opportunities for the Air Force.”

“A lot of credit goes to the people who made this decision,” said Senator Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks. “It proves they were acting in the best interest of the country. If Eielson is judged purely for its strategic value to our military, it always comes out a winner.”

Looking into the future, the decision to keep the F-16’s at Eielson will also be important in decisions regarding basing of the F-35’s and associated Environmental Impact Studies (EIS) actions.

“Today’s announcement honors the historic, strong connection Alaska has with the Air Force, as well as an endorsement of the hard work and tenacity of Interior Alaskans who fought so hard to support and keep our fighting men and women at Eielson,” said Senator Coghill. “I have the deepest gratitude for all that serve in the Armed Forces and I am proud that we will be able to continue supporting those mission with Alaskan pride.”


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Office of Governor Bill Walker

Alaska Congressional Delegation

Alaska Senate Majority


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

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