New Mexico lawmakers are pressing the Air Force to move F-16s to Holloman AFB, N.M., for training to build up the base’s mission as Hill AFB, Utah, takes on F-35s. The Air Force last month said Hill’s F-16s will become training aircraft at other bases as the service moves to build up the ranks of its fighter pilots in the face of a growing shortfall. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Steve Pearce on Wednesday announced an effort to persuade the Air Force to move the F-16s to Holloman, saying the base is experienced with the F-16 mission and already has restricted airspace and infrastructure for training. “Holloman is already excelling as an F-16 training base and is well positioned to expand this mission,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein. “Holloman is located in one of the most pristine areas for training and testing in the nation.” The Air Force will announce the location for the jets by the end of the year, James 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.