Legislation would shore up Air Force fighter forces at bases in 22 states
WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Mike Crapo introduced the Fighter Force Preservation and Recapitalization Act. The legislation preserves military readiness by preventing the closure of Air National Guard (ANG) fighter squadrons, like those at Buckley Space Force Base, at a time when pilot and maintenance manning are at critically low levels.
“The Buckley-based 140th Wing of the Colorado Air National Guard is a critical national security asset, defending combatant commands and major military installations and supporting global combat operations,” said Hickenlooper. “If we don’t have a strategy to secure the future of the 140th Wing—along with Air National Guard Units across the country—we’ll lose experienced pilots and jeopardize the strength of our fighting force. Our bill ensures this won’t happen.”
“Preserving and protecting National Guard fighter squadrons is a priority amid increasing national security threats,” said Crapo. “On average, the pilots and maintainers in the ANG are twice as experienced as their active-duty counterparts. The legislation protects squadrons–such as the Idaho Air National Guard’s 190th Fighter Squadron–from force reductions that leave Americans at risk to the threat of bad actors who wish to do us harm at home and abroad.”
Senators Jim Risch and Chris Van Hollen joined as original co-sponsors.
Since 1987, the Air Force fighter fleet has been reduced by 60 percent. The ANG represents 27 percent of the Air Force fighter force and is responsible for 94 percent of homeland defense missions. Currently, the Air Force is moving to divest many of the ANG legacy equipment, including older F-16s, A-10s, and F-15Cs without a plan to recapitalize them with advanced aircraft. Removing these craft without backfilling the force would put ANG squadrons at a loss during a time of heightened international conflict. The Fighter Force Preservation and Recapitalization Act will ensure the Air Force maintains 25 ANG fighter squadrons across 22 states, ready to protect Americans at home and abroad.
Full text is available HERE.