Air Force Reserve Command will add a new maintenance squadron to the 403rd Wing at Keesler AFB, Miss., focused solely on the maintaining the C-130Js assigned to the 815th Airlift Squadron there. The existing maintenance squadron will shift its focus to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron “Hurricane Hunters,” according to a March 21 release. The decision to add the squadron, which “is currently being call Det. 1, was made after the Active Duty association with the 345th AS was dismantled and it was decided the wing’s C-130Js would remain at the base. “The unit was needed in the past. The Active component with the 345th filled a lot of the maintenance roles before they left,” said Col. Jay Johnson, commander of the 403rd Maintenance Group. The new squadron will be made up about 145 personnel, including 55 full-time Reservists. The remaining airmen will be traditional Reservists, states the release. “This is great news from a maintenance standpoint. We are truly going to be a hub of activity,” Johnson said.
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.