The Air Force activated the 537th Airlift Squadron at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The active duty unit will partner with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 144th AS to operate the Air Guard-owned C-130 transports there under an active association. Members of the 144th AS arrived at Elmendorf-Richardson for beddown just a few months ago, along with their eight C-130s, from nearby Kulis ANG Base under changes resulting from BRAC 2005. The 144th is expected to grow by another four aircraft in the coming months. Lt. Col. Thomas McGee, 537th AS commander, said the association “is a perfect example of Total Force integration, where active duty personnel and Guard personnel work together seamlessly.” His unit traces its heritage to the 537th Tactical Airlift Squadron that flew C-7 Caribous out of Phu Cat AB, South Vietnam, before its inactivation in the early 1970s. (Elmendorf-Richardson report by SrA. Christopher Gross)
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.