Air Force to draw up EIS for F-15EX, F-35A beddowns

By Michael Marrow / July 19, 2022 at 3:50 PM

The Air Force is preparing an environmental impact statement that will assess the social, economic and environmental impacts that could result from the beddown of F-15EX and F-35A squadrons, according to a Federal Register notice published today.

The beddowns are associated with recapitalization of F-15C/D fleets currently in use by the Air National Guard. The F-15s are approaching the end of their service lives, the notice reads, and retention of the aircraft “is not economically feasible” beyond fiscal year 2026.

Under the proposed action, one F-15EX squadron would be based at two of three alternative locations, and one F-35A squadron would beddown at one of four alternative locations for a total of three new squadrons. The arrival of the aircraft would then enable National Guard crews to train with more advanced fighters.

The four sites under evaluation for the beddowns are Barnes Air National Guard Base, MA; Fresno Air National Guard Base, CA; Naval Air Station Lemoore, CA; and NAS Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, LA.

Each site is a candidate for either aircraft squadrons except for NAS Lemoore, which is limited to the F-35A.

The two F-15EX beddowns would each consist of 21 primary aircraft, two backup aircraft and one aircraft reserve, according to the notice. The F-35A beddown would include the same number of primary and backup aircraft but no reserve.

Each squadron relocation would also require additional personnel and construction projects to sustain the aircraft. Approximately 100 personnel would be necessary for the F-15EX beddown, the notice says, whereas the F-35A beddown would require 80.

A no action alternative will also be evaluated, according to the notice.

A draft EIS is expected to be completed by next summer, the notice states, and a final EIS would come in the winter/spring 2024 timeframe.

Following completion of the final EIS, the notice says, a record of decision would then be signed no sooner than 30 days after the EIS is published.