Holloman can't support both F-22s and F-35s.
—Michael C. Sirak
Nov. 16, 2009—The Air Force's F-35 beddown decisions may impact where its F-22s end up, according to the service's installation czar.
When the Air Force on Oct. 29 unveiled it list of 11 candidate locations to host the F-35 next decade, Holloman AFB, N.M., was included as a potential training site.
"Holloman scored very high on the training list," Kathleen Ferguson, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, told reporters Nov. 2.
However, she noted, the capacity does not exist there "to support both the F-22 and the F-35" at Holloman, which is already in the throes of establishing two combat-ready F-22 squadrons.
While "the Air Force has not made any decisions to move F-22s yet" just as it has not made final F-35 decisions, it "will consider the potential to relocate the F-22" as part of the next phase of the F-35 beddown process, she said.
Ferguson said the Air Force's original F-22 beddown decisions "were based on larger numbers" back when the service expected to buy more than just 187 airframes.
Based on that planning, two combat-ready F-22 squadrons already are stationed at Langley AFB, Va., along with two at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. Starting in 2010, one combat-ready unit will be assembled at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, as the current build continues at Holloman.
Like the squadrons at Holloman, each of these units will comprise 20 F-22s, 18 of which would be ready for war, with two backup airframes.
The first of Holloman's F-22 units, the 7th Fighter Squadron, already has 18 of its 20 Raptors in place, a Holloman spokeswoman told the Daily Report Nov. 13. Its 8th FS is scheduled to start receiving its complement of 20 once the 7th FS has received all of its aircraft, she said.
Sensing that the Air Force's pronouncements regarding Holloman could potentially mean more F-22s for Langley, Virginia Congressional representatives, including its two Senators, Sen. Mark Warner (D) and Sen. Jim Webb (D), have called on the Air Force leadership to provide more information on how it will ultimately decide where the F-22s end up.
"We seek to gain a better understanding of the status of the Air Force's plan for realignment of the remaining F-22 squadrons and the steps it will follow to ensure basing decisions are made in the same objective, transparent, and defensible way as was used to select candidate bases for the F-35," these lawmakers wrote in a Nov. 9 letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz.
Langley "clearly has excess operational capacity and modern facilities specifically constructed for the F-22," they write. In addition to Webb and Warner, Rep. Glenn Nye (D), Bobby Scott (D) and Rob Wittman (R) signed the missive.
Under the Air Force’s original beddown plans—again with a larger fleet size in mind—Langley would have hosted three combat-ready F-22 squadrons instead of just two.
Langley's 71st FS, which would have been the third unit to receive F-22s, still operates combat-ready F-15s. But as part of the Air Force's proposed retirement of more than 250 legacy fighters in Fiscal 2010, the squadron would shed its F-15s.
But that retirement plan has been put on hold until the Air Force explains to Congress how it will address looming shortages in the Air National Guard's air sovereignty alert mission.
Incidentally, both Warner and Webb voted on July 21 in support of the amendment that stripped funding for seven more F-22s from the Senate’s version of the Fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill.
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