The Department of the Air Force selected Ebbing Air National Guard Base, Fort Smith, Arkansas, as the preferred location to establish an F-35 Lightning II training center for Foreign Military Sales participants and the new location for the 425th Fighter Squadron, a Republic of Singapore air force F-16 Fighting Falcon training unit currently based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. This decision comes after several U.S. ally and partner nations showed interest in conducting F-35 training at a U.S.-based F-35 training facility. Ramp and airspace capacity constraints at Luke AFB limit expansion. This new training center will have capacity for up to 36 fighter aircraft.
The F-35 provides next-generation stealth capabilities to the U.S. and many U.S. ally and partner nations with its aerodynamic performance, advanced integrated avionics, enhanced situational awareness and increased survivability. Foreign Military Sales is a security assistance program authorized by the Arms Export Control Act. The act allows the U.S. to sell defense equipment, conduct training and provide services to a foreign country when the president deems that doing so will strengthen U.S. national security and promote world peace.
“The F-35 program is a multi-service, multi-national effort that dramatically increases interoperability between the U.S. and other F-35 partner nations,” said Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P. Roth. “We are fully committed to the F-35 as the cornerstone of the U.S. Air Force’s fighter fleet and look forward to building stronger relationships with nations who want to work by our side.”
Following this decision, the Department of the Air Force will conduct an environmental impact analysis to confirm Ebbing ANGB can support the new F-35 and F-16 missions. This selection also establishes Selfridge ANGB, Michigan, as an alternate location in the rare case the environmental impact analysis determines the preferred location unsuitable. The Department of the Air Force anticipates making the final basing decision in spring 2023. Additionally, Arkansas’ current military operations area airspace combined with proposed expansions will provide nearly 250 miles of continuous air-to-air training space for fighter pilots to train.