Montana State Sen. Edward Buttrey (R) said the Air Force’s plan to shift F-15s currently assigned to the Montana Air National to Fresno, Calif., squanders resources and leaves the state without a flying mission. That’s why he wants the Air Force to reconsider the move. “The infrastructure is in place, we have great Hays [military operations area] to fly in. . . . It’s not the time, or place, to move these” assets, said Buttrey, reported Great Falls’ KRTV News. Buttrey asserted that it would cost between $250 million and $500 million “of new infrastructure and wasted infrastructure” to transfer the 120th Fighter Wing’s mission at Great Falls to Fresno, and could cost the state as many as 1,000 jobs and $70 million in federal funds. The Air Force is slated to complete the environmental impact assessment of the move to Fresno in July.
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.