Maj. Gen. Hank Morrow, 1st Air Force and Continental US NORAD Region commander, says he is glad to have some F-15s available once again to protect the skies over US cities as part of Operation Noble Eagle. “I look forward to having the tremendous capabilities of the F-15 as part of my arsenal once again,” he adds. “Defending the nation remains the highest operational priority.” Morrow says resumption of the F-15s flying air sovereignty alert missions will be accomplished as soon as possible. Upon their return, one of the first tasks will be to relieve the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command fighter units that bore an additional alert burden during the F-15 standdown. “I’m very proud of our F-16 units, pilots, maintainers, and supporters that shouldered the additional burden over the past two months; they have my personal admiration,” Morrow says.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.