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Air Force Announces Strategic Placement of F-35 and F-15EX Fighters: Will These Locations Change the Game?

The Air Force disclosed on April 18 the designated areas for two fresh F-15EX units and a new F-35 team, all of which will be located within the Air National Guard. Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts is the preferred location for the new F-35A squadron, while Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Louisiana, and Fresno Air National Guard Base, California, are to accommodate the F-15EXs.

All three bases are currently using older F-15C/D model jets, which the Air Force wants to phase out in the upcoming years. If the environmental impact analysis allows, the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes will receive 18 new F-35s, and the 159th Fighter Wing and the 144th Fighter Wing at NAS Joint Reserve Base New Orleans and Fresno, respectively, will each be granted 18 F-15EXs.

A final selection cannot be made until the environmental impact analysis is completed by the spring of 2024, and the Air Force has not specified when the new aircraft will arrive. F-35s or F-15EXs will be assigned to every ANG unit that currently operates F-15s, according to Air National Guard officials.

The F-35s will be allocated to the Jacksonville Air National Guard Base, Florida, while the Kingsley Field and Portland Air National Guard Base in Oregon will receive the F-15EXs, as announced by the Air Force in 2020. The ANG’s Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont already has an F-35, and the F-35 will replace the F-16s at Truax Field, Wisconsin, and Dannelly Field, Alabama, later this year.

The F-35’s Active-Duty units and locations will be at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, RAF Lakenheath, UK, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida (planned), and Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas for the Air Force Reserve. The F-15EX is still being tested at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and no Active-Duty locations have been confirmed for the fighter.

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