Tanker operations have officially ended at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., with the departure of the 319th Air Refueling Wing’s final KC-135 Stratotanker. The wing will inactivate the base’s 905th Air Refueling Squadron, 319th Maintenance Group, and 319th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron on Dec. 31, bringing to an end 50 years of KC-135 activities at the base. Air Mobility Command vice commander Lt. Gen. Vern Findley flew the wing’s final KC-135 to McConnell AFB, Kan., on Dec. 4, completing the tanker drawdown. As part of BRAC 2005, Grand Forks will assume a new role: operating RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft. The first Global Hawk is due to arrive next summer. “As Grand Forks turns the page, it will continue to play a critical role” in joint operations, stated Findley. (Grand Forks Dec. 6 report and Dec. 3 report by A1C Rachel Waller)
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.