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USAFE commander discusses fighter retirements

January 11, 2010 (by SrA Kali L. Gradishar) - The USAFs in Europe commander emphasized the important role each airman fulfills in supporting the mission both at home station and in the deployed environment during his visit Jan. 8, to Spangdahlem AB, Germany.

USAF F-16C's with the flagship of the 52nd FW flies the skies over central Europe. Spangdahlem AB consists of two F-16 squadrons, the 22nd and 23rd FS also seen here on February 17th, 2000. [USAF photo by MSgt Blake R. Borsic]

Gen. Roger A. Brady discussed a proposal to retire legacy fighters to fund a smaller and more capable force, as well as redistribute people for higher priority missions. The affects would impact Spangdahlem AB aircraft and personnel should the plan be approved by Congress.

"The (Combat Air Forces) restructuring plan is driven by a need for us to free up funds to develop more capability largely in the CAF itself, which has to do with new weapons, missiles and small diameter bombs," General Brady said.

"What it amounts to is basically a squadron of F-16 Fighting Falcons out of Spangdahlem. So rather than having two squadrons of 21 primary assigned aircraft units, you will have one 24-PAA squadron in addition to the A-10 Thunderbolt II squadron," General Brady said.

The plan would include a possible reduction in Spangdahlem AB manpower authorizations by approximately 450, and 18 F-16s would be removed. Under the proposed plan, the Air Force could see a cost savings of about $355 million in fiscal 2010. Air Force officials would then be able to invest most of those funds in advanced capability modifications to remaining fighters and bombers.

"(Col. Tip Wight, the 52nd Fighter Wing commander) and other leaders here are working to make the move as smooth as possible," General Brady said.

The USAFE commander also discussed the significance of Spangdahlem AB and the continuation of its mission in the Eifel region, as well as the importance of the 52nd FW mission and its geographically-separated units.

"There is a lot going on at Spangdahlem, which includes the 52nd FW and the Air Mobility Command missions the base supports," he said. "Spangdahlem will continue to be important, both as a location for fighter aircraft as well as for mobility, but as we continue to look at where we have mission capability throughout Europe, Spangdahlem will be an important part of that plan. "We have some capability here that we don't have other places. (Base members) have repeatedly and continually demonstrated incredible combat capability down range. They are also extraordinarily important when they are home for partner building here, for assurance to the alliance, the reassurance of our allies and the U.S. commitment to NATO.

"You've got the full range of fighter activity, you've got support to an important mobility hub, you've got partnering with our allies, and Spangdahlem has taken part in the air policing mission in the Baltics," he said. "(Spangdahlem) continues to be an important part of all the major things we undertake here in USAFE."

"Every Airman has a skill that is critical to what the team does," the general said. "We have very smart Airmen who want to fix things and make things better. It's what Airmen do. We will continue to be the most respected air and space force on the planet."

Courtesy of 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Additional images:

Three-ship USAF F-16C/D formation from Spangdahlem AB, Germany - armed with Sidewinders and Mavericks. The closest F-16 is a D-model serial #91-0464 of the 22nd FS. [USAF photo]
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