AK Delegation: F-16s to Stay Put Because “America Needs Eielson”

Secretary of the Air Force Informs Lawmakers of Basing Decision

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 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.

“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 Murkowski.  “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 Senator Sullivan. “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 Young.  “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.