The Air Force announced Friday morning that its preferred location to host 24th Air Force, the new numbered air force that will focus on the cyberspace mission, is Lackland AFB, Tex. Lackland was one of six prospective locations announced in January. The service decided last fall that it would place the new NAF, which has operated provisionally at Barksdale AFB, La., under Air Force Space Command, headquartered at Peterson AFB, Colo. According to the May 15 announcement, USAF completed site surveys on March 6. The surveys, said Kathleen Ferguson, deputy secretary of the Air Force for installations, used “previously approved criteria to gather information, assess capabilities, and refine initial data to thoroughly evaluate all candidate locations.” Among the considerations for selecting the site was proximity to other cyber operational missions and communications bandwidth capabilities, as well as infrastructure and support capacity. The Air Force must still complete an environmental impact analysis before making the selection final, which it expect to do this summer. The service already is under fire from Nebraska elected and community officials, who felt its selection of Barksdale as the site for the new Air Force Global Strike Command was faulty, at best. Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska also was in the running for 24th AF.
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.