The Air National Guard not only organized air cover for the recent shuttle launch, but also set up emergency landing sites at various airports around the country. Shuttle Atlantis landed at its primary back-up site, Edwards AFB, Calif., but Air Guardsmen had to establish emergency response teams and communications links at three of the nine airports in the shuttle’s flight path—just in case. TSgt. Mike Smith with the National Guard Bureau reports that ANG pararescue crews were standing by in New York and Florida, ready for an Atlantic Ocean rescue, if needed.
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.