Kingsley Field Ready to Accept all F-15C Training
By Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson, 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 13, 2009
Sept. 13, 2009 -- KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- The Air Force has decided to merge its active-duty F-15C training with the Oregon Air National Guard.
The merger comes as Air Education and Training Command adjusts to the drawdown of F-15 fighter aircraft following Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommended phasing out 112 of the service's 405 in current use, said Col. Jeff Kendall, deputy director for flying training at AETC Headquarters, in a recent interview with Air Force Times.
The 173rd Fighter Wing currently shares the training mission with the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. however the planned merger would leave the Klamath Falls base as the sole provider.
"As a wing, we are prepared to accept all of the F-15C training for the Air Force and Air National Guard if or when the Air Force makes that decision," said Col. James Miller, the 173rd Fighter Wing commander.
Currently AETC has not said what they plan to do with the crew chief apprentice course, which provides the final step for student crew chiefs as they move join the operational Air Force, but Kendall says Kingsley Field is one option.
"Recently, we received correspondence that AETC had done two site visits to determine which locale would assume the crew chief apprentice course and apparently, AETC has opted to continue that training mission at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.," said Miller. "It has gone forward for formal coordination although a final decision has not been made yet."
Until now Tyndall AFB has trained approximately 60-80 pilots in a given year and the 173rd over 40 . According to Kendall that is approximately the number the Air Force will need following the draw down.
"Being the sole F-15 training base would not increase our flying hour program too dramatically," said Miller. "We currently fly between 4,800 and 5,200 hours and we would be able to accomplish the F-15 training mission within those hours and are postured to fly more."
Perhaps the most obvious sign of the merger for Klamath Falls residents will be four additional F-15 D-models which will increase the wing's aircraft count to about 25, said Kendall.
Another piece of the shared training mission is air battle manager training.
"In the last two years, the 173d Fighter Wing has hosted approximately 80 air battle manager students and instructors in support of the air battle manager syllabus and we continue to work with AETC to maintain this support," said Miller.
Tyndall AFB currently runs the new F-22 Raptor student pilot training course.