US Air Force Boosts Pilot Training at Base Ebbing

The US Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center has invested $500 million to expand military pilot training at the Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Arkansas.

As part of the project, the air force will construct a permanent F-35 Lightning II fighter jet training hub for Singapore and NATO members that procure weapons under the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s foreign military sales program.

The Ebbing site will also be the new location for the 425th Fighter Squadron, a unit dedicated to training Singaporean F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots currently at Luke Air Force Base.

The initiative covers four construction projects, eight renovations, and 10 relocatable facility developments, all of which are scheduled for completion by 2028.

The US Air Force’s Civil Engineer Center teamed with US Army counterparts in June to begin the project’s $27-million planning and design phase.

Once upgraded, the Ebbing base will accommodate 24 F-35s from allied nations and 12 F-16s from the Singapore Air Force.

F-35A Lightning II
F-35A Lightning II aircraft moves to refuel, July 13, 2016 on a flight from the UK to the United States. Image: US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Madelyn Brown

Maintaining Long-Term Cooperation

According to the US Air Force, the effort aligns with the US government’s National Defense Strategy, which promotes upskilling collaborations between the country and its allies to support common objectives.

This project will provide additional capacity to allow training for more of our international partners than current facilities allow,” Ebbing Air Education and Training Command Lead Col. Adam Rice explained.

“The mutually beneficial [foreign military sales] mission increases interoperability and enhances the long-term relationships between the US military and our allies and partners.”

Supporting Agile Combat Employment

Alongside the training center, the Ebbing site will incorporate additional resources that will improve training and exercises associated with the US Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment and corresponding F-35 pilot qualifications while serving as a standing aircraft emergency divert location.

“[Agile Combat Employment] shifts operations from centralized physical infrastructures to a network of smaller, dispersed locations that can complicate adversary planning, improve resilience, and provide more options for joint force commanders,” Rice said.

“Ebbing will provide an excellent area for us to train the force on how to conduct [Agile Combat Employment] operations in support of deterrence, crisis response or other operations, while at the same time also supporting our US F-35 pilot training mission.”

US Air Force F-16 in Afghanistan
A US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon takes-off from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, March 23, 2018. Image: US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook

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