KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --
The 173rd Fighter Wing welcomed a distinctive new F-15C aircraft to its growing fleet Feb. 7, 2014. The jet sports a tan, desert paint scheme rather than the typical grey-blue worn by all the other aircraft at the wing.
The aircraft comes from the aggressor squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., where it simulated adversary aircraft. Two more aircraft from Nellis are scheduled to arrive between now and June 2014, but those will have the standard F-15 paint.
"There was a scheduling conflict for [this] aircraft that prevented it from being painted prior to transfer," said Lt. Col. Jeff "Sled" Smith, 173rd Maintenance Group Deputy Commander. "When asked if we would accept a brown "lizard" paint scheme, we agreed to it!"
The arrival of this aircraft and six others scheduled between now and June will bring the total number of assigned to Kingsley Field to 32. Smith says seeing the unique aircraft in the skies over Klamath Falls is significant.
"It's a visible sign to the base and local community that Kingsley's mission is growing despite budgetary challenges across the Air Force and DoD as a whole," he said.
Col. Jeremy Baenen, the 173rd Fighter Wing Commander says it points toward the USAF commitment to adding more F-15C pilots to the fleet.
"In order to produce more pilots the 173rd Fighter Wing has to grow in both aircraft and personnel," he said. "This recently acquired aircraft retains the paint scheme of the 65th Aggressor Squadron where it originated but blends in ANG and 173rd FW emblems. It also symbolizes our desire to grow personnel at Kingsley Field by blending ANG and active duty personnel."
That growth manifests itself in many ways, among them the former alert facility which went unused by the wing since that mission left the base years ago, is once again a beehive of activity.
"Building 400 and building 404 have been a necessity in accepting more aircraft," said Maj. Micah Lambert, the 173rd Fighter Wing Maintenance Squadron Commander, of the former alert barns. "We are currently performing two phase inspections there, and one aircraft acceptance with the fourth bay being used for weapons load training and aircraft washes. This facility is also the primary location for NDI [non-destructive inspection] to perform aircraft x-ray. It is a busy facility!"
And that won't change any time soon; the building is slated for a full renovation of the entire electrical system, HVAC system, and installation of a high expansion foam (HEF) fire suppression system, said Maj. Tim Bruner, 173rd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron Commander.
With the addition of this aircraft and the four temporarily assigned here from the 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno, Calif., the Kingsley ramp is home to 34 F-15C aircraft, the largest number of aircraft in base history.