WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 6, 2017) —During a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing today on the U.S. Air Force budget and priorities, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) advocated for the resources needed to relocate two additional F-16 training squadrons to Holloman Air Force Base. He reiterated to committee witnesses Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff of the Air Force General David Goldfein that the additional two squadrons at Holloman will be critically important to addressing the Air Force’s shortage of fighter pilots. For years, Heinrich has worked to move the F-16s to Holloman, citing its unmatched airspace, the base's existing mission as a premier F-16 training location, and a surrounding community that is ready and eager to welcome the new squadrons, service members, and families.
In the hearing, Heinrich stated, “Like you both have said, there’s no quick fix to the pilot shortage we have, but I will certainly work with my colleagues to ensure you have the budget and resources to help train more pilots, and if the Air Force identifies any unfunded requirements as it relates to solving this problem, please seek our help because we’re very serious about meeting your needs on this front.”
Last week, Heinrich and U.S. Senator Tom Udall and U.S. Representative Steve Pearce welcomed the U.S. Air Force’s announcement it has completed the Environmental Impact Assessment for the relocation of the F-16s. The assessment found no significant impact, clearing the way for final approval to begin moving the F-16s from Hill Air Force Base in Utah to Holloman. The F-16s will be based out of Holloman AFB for the creation of a new Formal Training Unit (FTU) starting in late summer of this year and a final determination whether to make the interim basing permanent is still pending with the Air Force.
A list of witnesses and testimony, and the archived webcast of today's hearing will be available here.