Air Force Picks New Guard Locations for F-35, F-15EX Fighters

The Air Force announced locations for two new F-15EX squadrons and a new F-35 unit on April 18, all within the Air National Guard. 

The preferred location for the new F-35A squadron is Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass., while the F-15EXs are slated for Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La., and Fresno Air National Guard Base, Calif. 

All three bases currently operate older F-15C/D model fighters which the Air Force wants to retire in the coming years. 

At Barnes, the 104th Fighter Wing would gain 18 new F-35s. At NAS Joint Reserve Base New Orleans and Fresno, the 159th Fighter Wing and the 144th Fighter Wing would each get 18 F-15EXs. 

The selection of all three bases is contingent on an environmental impact analysis, which will be completed by the spring of 2024 before a final selection, the Air Force said. The service did not say when the new aircraft might arrive.

Air National Guard officials have said they want to assign F-35s or F-15EXs to every ANG unit that currently flies the F-15. In 2020, the Air Force announced that Jacksonville Air National Guard Base, Fla., will get the fifth-generation F-35, while Kingsley Field and Portland Air National Guard Base, both in Oregon, will get the fourth-gen F-15EX, a heavily-upgraded version of the F-15E. 

The ANG already has one location with the F-35, the 158th Fighter Wing at Burlington Air National Guard Base, Vt. Guard units at Truax Field, Wisc., and Dannelly Field, Ala., are slated to start receiving the F-35 later this year, which will replace their F-16s.

Those locations and units are in addition to the F-35’s Active-Duty units and locations, including: 

  • Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska 
  • Hill Air Force Base, Utah 
  • Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. 
  • Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. 
  • RAF Lakenheath, U.K. 
  • Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. (planned) 

Air Force Reserve is also slated to get F-35s at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. 

The F-15EX, meanwhile, is still undergoing testing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Air Force has yet to announce any Active-Duty locations for the fighter.