by Andre Kok
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
12/10/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials announced today that Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, is their preferred alternative to potentially host a Royal Saudi Air Force F-15SA maintenance and flying training unit in the U.S.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz validated Mountain Home AFB as the most suitable location for the proposed contingent of 12 F-15SA aircraft after a request by Saudi officials to locate the potential mission at the base.
"Saudi Arabia is a valuable long-term U.S. partner in the (Persian) Gulf," said Heidi Grant, the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for international affairs. "Facilitating the modernization of Royal Saudi Air Force aircraft, as well as providing enhanced aircrew and maintenance training, would build partner capacity and contribute to stability in the region. Our thorough analysis has led us to select Mountain Home AFB as the preferred alternative to potentially host our Saudi partners and to build both their capacity and interoperability with the U.S. Air Force."
Air Force officials determined that Mountain Home AFB is the preferred alternative for the RSAF training mission, primarily due to its co-location with F-15E units, its suitable weather and desert environment, and its availability of airspace and infrastructure to support an F-15SA training squadron. The initial commitment proposed by the RSAF is a five-year presence at the base from 2014 through 2019. A commitment beyond this five-year period is possible.
Potential basing is contingent upon an environmental impact analysis process as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, and officials are discussing this potential basing decision with the local community, including the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes.
The proposed training squadron would receive its first four aircraft in early to mid-2014, with the remaining eight aircraft delivered by the end of 2014. The aircraft would facilitate primary aircrew and flight instructor training as well as maintenance training.
The squadron would eventually grow to an estimated 150 to 250 RSAF personnel, including approximately 50 aircrew members and 100 to 200 maintenance professionals. The number of unaccompanied versus accompanied personnel and permanent party versus temporary students has yet to be determined.
Air Force professionals will conduct an initial site survey in December and initiate an environmental impact analysis process in early 2011, which will provide opportunities for public comment, in preparation for the possible basing arrangement.
12/14/2010 2:48:17 AM ET The Brists dont want us here either and I would much rather be back in Afghanistan then live in this country. People can think what they want but we are not liked in the UK. So noone finds it fishy that the Saudis are going there They freak out when we had a jet IFE into there country a few years back. I see an alternate motive. As for the other 2 countries there I have heard of Singapore but really in comparison no contest. Someone is reaping a perk for this one.
12/13/2010 6:13:58 PM ET Actually G the Royal Netherlands Air Force has 14 of their F-16's with the Arizona Air National Guard here in Tucson. Prior to that the United Arab Emirates had 12 of their jets stationed here. We also provide training to about a dozen other allied air forces. The Germans have a training squadron at Holloman AFB and a couple other nations have students at Luke AFB. I find no small amount of hypocrisy that someone stationed in a foreign country would have a problem with another nation having aircraft in ours. Shouldn't the community around Mountain Home be able to reap the financial benenfits that would come with Saudi Air Force personnel coming to live there?
Dan, Tucson IAP
12/13/2010 5:51:21 PM ET G-Singapore is already at Mountain Home and the Germans have been at Holloman for a long time.
12/13/2010 5:35:16 PM ET G from RAF Lakenheath. The Republic of Singapore has one in the US of A.
Arctic Warrior, CO
12/13/2010 3:13:53 PM ET Can someone explain why they need a training squadron in the USA? Pretty sure no other country has a permanent unit assigned. Isn't this is what they made Red Flag for? Curious which politician is making out on this deal