Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (D) wants USAF to increase the number of F-22 fighters stationed in his state at Joint Base Elmendorf. Currently Elmendorf hosts 40 Raptors. Begich contends that this total isn’t enough to meet mission demands, including air sovereignty alert. “Nowhere is the need for additional [F-22 primary assigned aircraft] more evident and deliberate than Elmendorf,” he wrote in a letter last week to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. In addition to Elmendorf, Raptors are already stationed at Langley AFB, Va., and Holloman AFB, N.M., and are being bed down at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. However, Holloman is also a candidate to host the F-35 fighter, and Air Force officials have said the F-22s would be moved if F-35s end up going there. Virginia lawmakers have previously called for more F-22s at Langley.
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.