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F-15C training for active duty and Air National Guard pilots will be merged during this fiscal year and hosted by the Oregon Air National Guard based here, Guard officials recently announced.
The merger comes as Air Education and Training Command adjusts to Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ recommended drawdown of 112 of the service's 405 F-15 fighter aircraft in current use, Col. Jeff Kendall, deputy director for flying training at AETC headquarters, said 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 Kingsley Field 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," said Col. James Miller, the 173rd Fighter Wing commander.
Until now, Tyndall AFB has trained about 60-80 pilots in a year and the 173rd over 40. Kendall said that is about the number the Air Force will need following the drawdown.
"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."
In addition to the training mission, the 173rd will receive four 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.