The head of the North Dakota National Guard believes the transition of the Air National Guard’s 119th Fighter Wing at Fargo, N.D., from F-16s to Predator unmanned aerial vehicles could signal an increase in personnel for the Happy Hooligans. Maj. Gen. Mike Haugen was talking to a group in Fargo this week, explaining that in addition to the UAVs, the ANG facility would be getting new lightweight cargo aircraft. According to the Associated Press news service, Haugen said, “There’s some good stuff coming here.” He did not offer a timetable. However, to split the difference between loss of the F-16s and arrival of a cargo aircraft, the state also is lobbying for an interim mission. Gov. John Hoeven told AP that conversations with USAF “are encouraging.”
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.