Team Kingsley prepares to train the next generation of fighter pilots

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

A cursory glance at headlines around the world indicates times of turbulent change abroad and here in the U.S. Not one year ago, they read: Russia Strikes Ukraine, Ukraine Stands Alone and Putin’s Bloody War. They are not less jarring today; suspected Chinese spy balloon moving over the U.S., China’s Mideast buildup stirs security worries for the U.S.

Emerging threats in China, Russia, and even lesser developed nation-states like Iran see the Department of Defense adapting its posture to address these dangers.

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall addressed the current landscape the department of the Air Force operates in, saying, “Russia … is a significant power to be concerned with. We’ve had a wake-up call; we’ve had an emotional event that says, ‘Yes, war at scale among great powers, among modern powers, can happen.’ Unfortunately, it can also happen in the Pacific.”

Among the services, the Air Force is working on upgrading its fleet, fielding fifth-generation aircraft as quickly as possible, and adapting to adversaries who seek parity with our technological superiority.


“My highest personal goal as Secretary has been to instill a sense of urgency about our efforts to modernize,” says Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “The most important thing we owe our Airmen and Guardians are the resources they need and the systems and equipment they need to perform their missions.”

At Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., the ripple effects of this urgency are evident. Kadena AB is relinquishing its fleet of F-15C aircraft and sending them to the 173rd Fighter Wing, where maintainers are prepping them for backfill to other units or retiring them to sunny Arizona in the “boneyard.” In their stead, a rotating force of fighters, including fifth-generation aircraft, will bolster air superiority in the Pacific Theater.

Additionally, plans are underway to evaluate Kingsley Field’s infrastructure and airspace suitability for a replacement mission to its aging F-15C/Ds. In 2020, it was announced that Kingsley Field would transition to an F-15EX mission, but due to the strategic focus in the Indo-Pacific Command theater, this plan is being reconsidered.

 Several agencies are scheduled to visit in the next few months to gather information that will help determine the Department of the Air Force’s decision regarding what mission will be best suited for the 173rd Fighter Wing.

“Kingsley Field is an integral piece of the Air Force’s modernization plan,” said Bouma. “Our vast airspace, a culture of excellence, and unprecedented community support make us a viable fit to continue our legacy of training the next generation of fighter pilots.”

Whatever the future holds, the Air Force is readying a fleet of advanced Airmen and aircraft alike to meet it. The 173rd Fighter Wing and Kingsley Field will proudly be part of that future.