Draft Environmental Study Supports Eielson F-16 Relocation

The proposed in-state relocation of the 18th Aggressor Squadron from Eielson AFB, Alaska, to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson would save the Air Force $227 million over a five-year period and help achieve operational efficiencies, states the recently issued draft report on the move’s environmental impact. Eielson’s 21 F-16s and associated personnel would shift to Elmendorf under the proposal, while Eielson would continue to support major training exercises with a much-reduced personnel footprint, according to the report’s executive summary. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), a critic of the move, challenged its “phantom cost savings” in a May 31 release on the draft report. Similarly, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called the plan a “backdoor BRAC” with no validated cost savings, in her same-day release. The Air Force also looked at three alternatives: relocate the F-16s to Elmendorf, but deploy them to Eielson for 12 weeks a year for major exercises; station the F-16s at Elmendorf and deploy them with tanker support for exercises for 12 weeks per year; and take no action. The release of the final environmental report is expected this fall. (Click here for full documentation.)