The European Infrastructure Consolidation determined that the number of US military and civilian personnel at Lajes Airfield, Portugal, will decrease by about 500 over the next five to seven years, but the mission is not going away, emphasized US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa boss Gen. Frank Gorenc. “When people talk about Lajes they talk about it in the context of closure, but that’s not correct.” Gorenc told Air Force Magazine in an interview at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium last week. “It’s really streamlining because there are good things about Lajes that can be leveraged and that’s really what we’re working.” The airfield, air traffic control tower, and crash-fire rescue will continue to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, the 65th Air Base Group will only be manned to operate the flight line for eight hours a day, seven days a week. “The ABG commander can alter the duty hours of his team if mission requirements dictate,” said USAFE-AFAFRICA spokesman Jerry Renne. “If a US aircraft needed to land outside of duty hours (due to an emergency, for example), the aircraft would be able to land.” (See also Consolidating European Infrastructure.)
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.