Fort Wayne to House F-16s, Maybe More

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The commander of the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne says a U.S. Air Force decision to replace the base's A-10 aircraft with F-16 fighters is "bittersweet," but could prove beneficial. Colonel David Augustine says the move puts the facility in a better position to attract the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. He says bringing the next-generation aircraft to Fort Wayne would result in decades of flight missions for the base.

The Air Force is expected to release details next week about the timing and potential staffing impact of the move.

March 4, 2014

News Release

FORT WAYNE, Ind. - The Air Force announced today that the 122nd Fighter Wing, Fort Wayne Air National Guard Base was selected to receive 18, F-16, Block 40 Fighting Falcons to replace the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft they currently fly and maintain. The Pentagon's proposed March 4 budget for 2015 includes cutting the A-10, leaving the F-16 as its replacement. The 122nd Fighter Wing previously flew the F-16 at Fort Wayne from 1991 until 2010 when replaced by the A-10C.

Returning to the F-16 allows the 122nd to remain in fighters until the unit can vie for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Col. David Augustine, 122nd Fighter Wing Commander, said, "Our strategic goal remains to bring the JSF to Fort Wayne. Although we'll hate to see our A-10s depart, this is the right mission at the right time to bridge us to the Joint Strike Fighter! Our rich history in the F-16 will once again return."

Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana said, "I'm determined to focus our energy on the future of the 122nd Fighter Wing and the men and women that serve our state and our nation. The F-16 is a perfect bridge mission to the Joint Strike Fighter, which Indiana is determined to bring to Fort Wayne."

"For nearly seventy years, Fort Wayne has been home to fighter planes and I’m proud the F-16's will keep it that way," said U.S. Congressman Stutzman. "Thanks to Governor Pence, General Umbarger, and Hoosier leaders, we made the case that the 122nd Fighter Wing's battle-tested capabilities are a cost-effective and strategic asset. I’m pleased that the Air Force agrees."

The Wing has deployed during six major overseas deployments since 9-11. Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, The Adjutant General of the State of Indiana, said, "The 122nd Fighter Wing is ready, willing and able 24/7 to answer our State and Nation's call! It is clear, the F-16 bridge mission to the Joint Strike Fighter is the right solution for our Air Force and the Indiana Air National Guard."

Without the great support of Governor Pence, Congressman Stutzman, Senator Donnelly, Senator Coats, Mayor Henry, our State delegation and the Fort Wayne Base Community Council, this opportunity would not have been possible. Umbarger said, "It takes a team to ensure everyone understands the true value of the 122nd Fighter Wing at Fort Wayne Air National Guard Base."

In fact, recently, through the leadership of Scott Hinderman, Executive Director of Airports, a program called the Airport Overlay District was approved that formalizes the inputs on local zoning, preparing the airport for the arrival of not only the F-16 but in the future, the Joint Strike Fighter. It is clear, the Fort Wayne community, the Fort Wayne International Airport and the 122nd Fighter Wing are ready for the future!

Source: 122nd Fighter Wing

March 4, 2014

News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, praised today’s announcement that the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne will be receiving F-16’s to replace its current fleet of A-10 aircraft. The announcement was made as part of the release of the president’s budget for fiscal year 2015.

"This is a great day for the 122nd Fighter Wing and the Indiana Air National Guard," said Coats.

"The Fort Wayne base has the runway length, capacity, airspace and skilled personnel to take on this new mission. The F-16 has a proud history in Allen County and represents a long-term bridge to the Joint Strike Fighter. I join with the Fort Wayne community in welcoming back F-16s. I commend General Umbarger, Colonel Augustine and the entire 122nd Fighter Wing who have demonstrated that this base is one of the best in the country. The credit goes to those who have made the 122nd Fighter Wing an outstanding and nationally-recognized unit."

The Fort Wayne Air National Guard base is home to the 122nd Fighter Wing, which currently consists of 21 A-10 aircraft. As the A-10’s are phased out by the Air Force, the 122nd Fighter Wing will begin a new mission with F-16’s by the end of the decade.

Source: The Office of U.S. Senator Dan Coats

March 4, 2014

News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Joe Donnelly, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, welcomed the announcement that the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne has been selected to receive 18, F-16 Block 40 Fighting Falcons to replace the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft they currently fly and maintain.

"The Air National Guard Airmen in Fort Wayne have a proud history of protecting our country, and I welcome the announcement that the 122nd Fighter Wing's air combat mission will continue," said Donnelly. "As we confront budget challenges in the coming days and weeks, I will continue to advocate for responsible decisionmaking and investments in Air Guard personnel, training and infrastructure. The 122nd Fighter Wing has earned a reputation for excellence in the Air National Guard, and I strongly support a continued air combat mission."

Last week, Donnelly sent a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force in response to the preview of the Department of Defense FY 2015 budget. Donnelly expressed concern regarding the Air Force's intention to divest the A-10 Thunderbolt II and its potential impact on the future mission of the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne. Donnelly asserted that if the A-10 is transitioned out, Fort Wayne should continue to have an air combat mission. See a copy of the letter here.

In addition, Donnelly met last week with Indiana National Guard Commander Major General R. Martin Umbarger in Washington, and they discussed the important work of the Airmen in Fort Wayne and how it is essential to continue an air combat mission at the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne.

Source: The Office of U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly