A detachment of airmen and F-15s from the Montana Air National Guard’s 120th Fighter Wing in Great Falls will soon deploy to JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to stand alert and protect the airspace around Hawaii while Hickam transitions from operating F-15s to F-22s. Great Falls’ KFBB News Station 5 reported Saturday that the Montana detachment will begin the air sovereignty alert mission at Hickam on August 6 with six of its F-15s and more than 30 airmen. The 120th FW’s presence at Hickam is expected to last until Hickam’s transition is complete, which could take up to two years, according to KFBB. This new comes a little more than one month after the 120th FW was cleared for operations with its F-15s after undergoing its own transition from F-16s per BRAC 2005.
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.