After more than seven years of work and planning, the Air Force expanded the aerial training range at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, to provide more realistic training for the base’s F-15Es and other aircraft. The Mountain Home Range Complex, as of July 26, is more than 2,000 square miles larger, said base officials in an Aug. 9 release. “The new airspace provides the opportunity for better training,” said Col. Christopher Short, 366th Fighter Wing commander. “It’s more realistic and provides depth, which challenges our aviators to locate low-flying aircraft and ground targets in mountainous terrain.” As part of the change, the airspace floor is now 4,500 feet lower, allowing pilots to fly closer to mountain ranges that mimic Afghanistan’s rough terrain, states the release. This also allows crews to better replicate real-world missions by communicating with joint terminal attack controllers in the mountains as well as practicing refueling missions and aerial combat in the same flight. (Mountain Home report by 2nd Lt. Bryant Davis)
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.