Interim training units for F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots are to be set up by the US Air Force in order to increase fighter pilot production as part of the service’s efforts to address its fighter pilot shortage.
The USAF released basing criteria on August 11, that will be used to select candidate bases to establish additional permanent formal training units (FTUs) using F-16s from Hill Air Force Base (AFB), Utah.
However, establishing permanent FTUs takes time and the need for additional fighter pilot production is urgent, says the service. Therefore, as an interim solution to increase fighter pilot training, the F-16s at Hill AFB will be temporarily moved to augment pilot training at up to two of the existing F-16 training locations: Luke AFB, Arizona; Holloman AFB, New Mexico; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland’s Kelly Field Annex, Texas; or Tucson Air National Guard Base, Arizona.
Site surveys will begin at these four locations next week to gather detailed information on operational requirements, infrastructure capacity, environmental considerations and cost. The basing criteria for the long-term permanent solutions include mission requirements (weather, airspace and training range availability), capacity (sufficient hanger and ramp space, plus facility considerations), environmental requirements and cost factors.
The USAF will evaluate all installations in the continental United States with an existing fighter mission and a runway that is greater than or equal to 8,000ft (2,440m) against the approved criteria to identify candidate bases for the F-16s. After identifying candidate bases for the long-term permanent solution, Air Education and Training Command will conduct site surveys at each location as applicable. Site survey teams will assess each location against operational requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, infrastructure, environmental considerations and manpower. They will also develop cost estimates to bed down the F-16s.
Based on the results of these efforts, the USAF plans to identify candidate installations for the F-16s later this year. The USAF will use its environmental impact analysis process to analyse reasonable alternatives determined through the use of these criteria.