U.S. SENATE News:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce applaud the U.S. Air Force’s interim decision to relocate two additional F-16 training squadrons to Holloman Air Force Base for the creation of a new Formal Training Unit (FTU).
The Air Force will move the F-16s from Hill Air Force Base in Utah. Currently, the Air Force is roughly 700 F-16 fighter pilots short of requirements, which makes the additional two squadrons at Holloman critically important to addressing the Air Force’s shortage of fighter pilots.
The decision, which will be made final in spring of 2017, follows a joint effort by Udall, Heinrich and Pearce to urge the Air Force to choose Holloman as its relocation site for the F-16 training squadrons.
In making the case for Holloman Air Force Base, the lawmakers cited Holloman’s unmatched airspace, the base’s existing mission as a premier F-16 training location, and a surrounding community that is ready and eager to welcome the new squadrons, service members, and families.
In August, the lawmakers wrote a letter to U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff General David Goldfein highlighting Holloman’s credentials as a relocation site for the F-16s; and in September, Udall, Heinrich and Pearce met with Air Force Under Secretary Lisa Disbrow to continue to press their case.
In addition, the full New Mexico congressional delegation held a phone call with Air Force Secretary James last week to receive an update on the status of the Air Force’s deliberations.
“In choosing to relocate these F-16 squadrons to Holloman Air Force Base, the Air Force has made a decision that will enormously benefit our national security, our service members and their families, and New Mexico’s economy,” Udall said. “Holloman is already excelling in its current F-16 mission, and I have every confidence that the base will continue to thrive as a training site for these new squadrons. I know that the city of Alamogordo – a true ‘Air Force town’ that offers unyielding support to Holloman – could not be happier about the Air Force’s decision and the new jobs and economic activity it will bring. As a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue to fight to ensure that New Mexico’s first-rate military bases and national labs have the resources they need to keep our nation secure and grow our state’s economy.”
“I am proud that the Air Force chose New Mexico to lead the nation in addressing its shortage of fighter pilots. Holloman Air Force Base’s unmatched, restricted airspace, existing infrastructure, and exceptional flying weather makes it the perfect place for the Air Force to relocate these F-16 squadrons,” Heinrich said “Located just six miles from Alamogordo, Holloman contributes to the local economy and is part of a top-notch community that supports its airmen unlike any other in the country. This decision alone will add nearly 700 jobs to Holloman in the interim and hopefully for years to come. I will continue using my position on the Armed Services committee to highlight the unique advantages that our state and our people offer to the military.”
“Relocating these F-16 squadrons to Holloman is certainly the right decision. Holloman has unmatched airspace, weather conditions, and community support,” Pearce said. “This interim decision clearly reiterates that the Air Forces also recognizes the great value Holloman adds. Now, however, is not the time to rest on our successes, we must continue to engage with the Air Force in the coming months to ensure this move is the final one. Permanently stationing these squadrons at Holloman allows the Air Force to attack their pilot shortage head on, putting first the health of the Force, while also supporting our service members and their families. I’ve flown these skies for over 40 years – nowhere in the world produces better airmen than Southern New Mexico. Further utilization of Holloman Air Force Base allows our military to retain its air dominance and its ability to Fly-Fight-Win.”