FAIRBANKS — A meeting between U.S. Air Force liaisons and the Alaska Congressional delegation Wednesday revealed the possible relocation of F-16s at Eielson Air Force Base is once again under review.
The review is part of an ongoing and recurring Air Force process and is nothing to be alarmed about, according to Mathew Felling, director of communications for Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
“We knew this conversation was going to be had. They are regimented, and they have a certain way of doing things, and they are re-evaluating and reassessing their strategic positioning of their fleet,” Felling said.
Eielson was named in August as the preferred alternative to receive the first squadron of F-35 fighter jets outside the contiguous United States. The F-35s are the latest and most advanced generation of Air Force fighter jets, and aren’t scheduled to arrive at Eielson until 2019. The goal of the Alaska delegation is to keep the F-16s at Eielson until the F-35s are delivered.
“We plan on launching the strongest defense of Eielson — a strenuous defense,” Felling said. “We told them that we would be very disappointed if they pulled the F16s before the F-35s, and we’re going to renew that concern with them.”
Re-evaluation of the F-16s status was a condition of getting the F-35s, Felling said. Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson are the other two candidates for placement of the F16s.
The News-Miner was unable to contact Sen. Mark Begich’s office for comment.
Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582.