What Happens to Fresno?

Congress has tasked the Air Force to tell it how it plans to sustain the Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing at Fresno, Calif.—and its air defense mission—beyond 2012. BRAC 2005 left the 144th FW with 18 of its 24 older F-16 fighters, but lawmakers realized that the Air Force has made no moves to offer the unit replacement fighters as the service begins to shed older F-16s and acquires new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The just signed into law 2007 defense spending bill notes that the 144th is “the only dedicated air defense fighter wing in the southwest.” The law directs Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne to “submit a report … outlining a plan” sustaining the wing’s air defense mission at its Fresno location beyond 2012. There is no timetable, but we bet the California delegation won’t forget.