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US Air Force Reactivates Aggressor Squadron to Improve F-35 Training

Sputnik News

00:19 14.05.2019

The US Air Force recently announced that it is reactivating its 65th Aggressor Squadron and shipping 11 F-35A Lightning II fighter jets to Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base to further strengthen the service's training on the multirole stealth fighter.

According to a May 9 press release, the move resulted from recommendations put forth by Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of the service's Air Combat Command. Holmes had called on officials to boost tactical and close-air support training for air personnel on the fifth generation aircraft.

"Aggressor squadrons have been honing the skills of Air Force pilots since the early 1970s," Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, said in a statement. "They provide a dose of realism in air exercises, and their training value is crucial."

"These F-35 aggressor aircraft will keep us ahead of adversaries for years to come," he added.

The Aggressor Squadron had been deactivated in September 2014 and spent the last five years shuttered as an Air Force cost-saving measure, according to the National Interest. Prior to ceasing operations, the squadron flew the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, a fourth-generation fighter first introduced into the service in January 1976.

Per the service's release, nine non-combat capable F-35A fighter jets will be pulled from Florida's Eglin Air Force Base, and two others will be removed from California's Edwards AFB.

The two jets being relocated from the Golden State will join Nellis AFB's 24th Tactical Air Support Squadron to meet the second of Holmes' recommendations. The 24th squadron flies the multirole F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft and primarily functions in a close-air support training capacity at the Nevada base.

The transfer of aircraft is expected to begin sometime in early 2022; however, it will only take place once the service is able to replace the pulled F-35A jets from Eglin AFB with "newly produced aircraft."

The move will also mean the relocation of approximately 194 military personnel and 37 contractors to Nellis AFB, according to a release.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has also noted in a statement that the move will allow the Air Force "to repurpose early production F-35s to help train Airmen for the high end fight."

Air Force Times reported that officials chose Nellis AFB to host the newly reactivated squadron because it hosts a variety of Combat Air Forces exercises, the US Air Force Weapons School and the Weapons Instructor Courses, among other reasons.

Sputnik



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