Brig. Gen. Leon Rice, assistant Adjutant General-Air in Massachusetts, met with some resistance as he discussed the Air National Guard’s plans to lower the ceiling for intercept training flights over the Condor Military Operation Area over Western Maine at the last of five planned public hearings, this one in Farmington, Maine, Tuesday evening, according to an Associated Press report (via Boston Herald). The plan calls for expanding the area in which Air National Guard F-15 and F-16 fighters, mainly from Massachusetts and Vermont, can fly as low as 500 feet but reducing the time at which they fly at that level. The Air Guard has not done a full environmental impact study, which Rice said it’s not required to do. Gov. John Baldacci of Maine has asked for a full study. Right now, the Massachusetts ANG expects to present the plan to the FAA next spring.
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.