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The National Guard Bureau (NGB) proposes to beddown one squadron of F-15EX aircraft at two of three alternative locations and one squadron of F-35A aircraft at one of four alternative locations. The F-15EX would replace existing F-15C/D aircraft at two installations analyzed. The F-35A would replace the existing F-15C/D aircraft at one of the installations analyzed. In addition, the NGB would implement necessary construction projects to successfully beddown the aircraft at the selected installations.

The purpose of the proposed action is to replace aging F-15C/D aircraft currently utilized by the Air National Guard with the state-of-the-art fighter aircraft to better address future mission requirements, offer expanded capability, and provide life-cycle cost savings in comparison to continued operation of existing F-15C/D aircraft. The proposed action is needed because the F-15C/D aircraft are reaching the end of their service life. It is not economically feasible to retain the F-15C/D aircraft beyond fiscal year 2026, and the Department of the Air Force has already begun to retire aircraft that have reached the end of their serviceability.

The alternative locations are:

  • Barnes Air National Guard Base at Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport, Westfield, Massachusetts
  • Fresno Air National Guard Base at Fresno Yosemite International Airport, Fresno, California
  • Naval Air Station Lemoore, California* 
  • Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans, Belle Chasse, Louisiana

* Naval Air Station Lemoore is being considered for the F-35A only because it does not currently have F-15C/D aircraft to replace.

Each of the two F-15EX beddowns would include one squadron of 21 aircraft with three back-ups. The F-35A beddown would include one squadron of 21 aircraft and two back-ups. These aircraft are being acquired in support of the Air National Guard mission and would replace the legacy fighter F-15C/D aircraft at the selected installations, with the exception of Naval Air Station Lemoore, which does not currently have F-15C/D aircraft to replace.

F-35A aircraft would be expected to begin arriving at the selected installations in 2026; F-15EX aircraft would begin arriving in 2027-28.

The Air National Guard would use the same special use airspace that it currently uses for the F-15C/D models.

Yes, though each location would attempt to use the existing infrastructure and facilities to the maximum extent reasonable.

The Department of the Air Force (DAF) and the National Guard Bureau are committed to a deliberate, repeatable, defendable, and transparent beddown process. The DAF conducted an enterprise-wide look to beddown the aircraft and evaluated more than 200 DAF and Air National Guard sites for training and operational beddowns in the United States, Asia, and Europe. The DAF will continue this enterprise-wide beddown process every two years for basing aircraft projected for delivery through 2035.

The Department of Defense uses several metrics to evaluate noise effects. The Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) noise metric is primarily used for noise generated at the airfield. Additionally, the Community Noise Equivalent Level (CNEL) is used in the state of California. These metrics are used by all Federal agencies for predicting human annoyance and other potential noise effects on humans. DNL represents the average of all noise events that occur over a 24-hour period and includes a penalty for flights occurring between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. CNEL adds an additional penalty in the evening timeframe between 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Other metrics are used to determine maximum, instantaneous, and supersonic noise levels. These will all be used in the Draft EIS.

A noise analysis is being conducted to determine any change at each of the four alternative installations that would result from beddown of either aircraft. The Draft EIS will evaluate and present any change in noise levels at the airfield and in the training airspace.

The F-15C/Ds would be retired from service due to the age of the aircraft.

The Department of the Air Force looked at all Air Force installations that currently fly F-15C/D aircraft because they are at the end of their service life and are due for retirement. Bases with a formal training unit mission were excluded from consideration at this time. The result was these four alternative locations.