Air Force Special Operation Command has deactivated the 21st Special Operations Squadron, an MH-53J Pave Low helicopter unit at RAF Mildenhall, UK, reports Bryan Mitchell of Stars and Stripes. The 21st SOS was part of the 352nd Special Operations Group at Mildenhall; it will now become a CV-22 Osprey unit at AFSOC’s newly acquired Cannon AFB, N.M. There was speculation earlier this year about AFSOC removing the 352nd SOG from Mildenhall now that it has a western base and room to grow. The deactivation of the 21st SOS cuts the group’s force by about a third.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.