It is too soon to break out the bubbly, but the Air Force has indeed dispatched some officials—an earlier report had them at the base last month—to scope out whether the service should reopen the runway at Malmstrom AFB, Mont. The base has not had a fixed-wing flying mission since it lost its KC-135s under BRAC 1995. Currently, the base has military helicopters to support the ICBM mission. The Montana Congressional delegation has been working to secure new missions—of any type—for the base. Meanwhile some Great Falls residents have been fighting growth outside the base to sustain the possibility of a new flying mission.
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.