Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith will be the new location for a F-35 training center and for a Republic of Singapore training unit.
The U.S. Air Force announced this week that the Fort Smith air base would be the preferred location for a F-35 Lightning II training center for Foreign Military Sales participants. According to the military branch, this decision was motivated by allied nations’ interest in conducting F-35 training at U.S. training facility.
The training center at Ebbing Air National Guard Base is expected to have capacity for up to 36 fighter aircraft.
“The selection committee recognized that Arkansas is one of the most military-friendly states in the nation. Our tax exemption for military retirement income and our licensing reciprocity initiatives are valuable tools for recruiting qualified employees and their families to Fort Smith. We have made significant progress toward building the most expansive fifth-generation airspace directly over Ebbing and an aerial range just four miles off the end of the runway. In my meeting with the Singaporean delegation and the U.S. Department of Defense, it was clear that they understood that Arkansas is a military friendly state and that the River Valley would wholeheartedly welcome the fighter-jet training. The support of our senators and representatives in Congress, and the members of the military affairs committee of AEDC were extremely helpful in winning this mission. We already are prepared to provide a first-rate quality of life for the families who will move here. Congratulations to Major General Kendall Penn, Colonel Leon Dodroe, 188th commander, other USAF leaders, the Air Force and the community leaders whose thoughtful efforts and hard work to sell Fort Smith landed a project that will pay dividends for years,” Gov. Asa Hutchinsonsaid in a statement.
In addition, the Fort Smith base will now house the Republic of Singapore’s 425thFighter Squadron. This is a training unit for the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The unit is currently located at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
“Fighter jets will return to the Arkansas River Valley, thanks to years of hard work by the Fort Smith community, our federal delegation, and the governor. Singapore’s F-16s and future F-35s will make good use of Arkansas’s strong workforce and excellent facilities. We’re all grateful that the Air Force and our friends from Singapore have chosen Fort Smith for this vital new national security mission,” Sen. Tom Cotton said.