WASHINGTON D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich 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 two additional F-16 training squadrons to Holloman Air Force Base for the creation of a new Formal Training Unit (FTU). The assessment found no significant impact, and Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson gave final approval to begin moving the F-16s from Hill Air Force Base in Utah to Holloman. Today's announcement means that the F-16s will be based out of Holloman AFB 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.
Last November, the Air Force announced the interim decision to relocate the F-16s to Holloman Air Force Base. This decision followed a joint effort by Udall, Heinrich and Pearce to urge the Air Force to choose Holloman as its relocation site for the F-16 training squadrons. In making the case for Holloman Air Force Base, the lawmakers cited Holloman's 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 August, the lawmakers wrote a letter to then-Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff General David Goldfein highlighting Holloman's credentials as a relocation site for the F-16s; and in September, Udall, Heinrich, and Pearce met with Air Force Under Secretary Lisa Disbrow to continue to press their case.
“The Air Force’s decision to relocate these F-16 squadrons to Holloman Air Force Base will enormously benefit our national security, our service members and their families, and New Mexico's economy, and I’m pleased to see this next critical step taking place. The findings of the environmental impact assessment show the permanent decision to move the F-16s to Holloman is on track,” Udall said. "Holloman is already excelling in its current F-16 mission, and I look forward to seeing the base continue to thrive as a training site for these new squadrons. I will continue to track the progress taking place with this relocation and, as a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I will keep fighting to ensure that New Mexico's first-rate military bases and national labs have the resources they need to keep our nation secure and grow our state's economy."
"I am proud that the Environmental Assessment is complete and that Air Force Secretary Wilson has approved the decision for New Mexico to lead the nation in training fighter pilots. Holloman Air Force Base's unmatched restricted airspace, existing infrastructure, and exceptional flying weather makes it the perfect place for the Air Force to relocate these F-16 squadrons," said Heinrich. "Located just six miles from Alamogordo, Holloman contributes to the local economy and is part of a top-notch community that supports its airmen unlike any other in the country. This decision alone will add nearly 700 jobs to Holloman in the interim and hopefully for years to come. I will continue using my position on the Armed Services committee to highlight the unique advantages that our state and our people offer to the military."
"Holloman has unmatched airspace, weather conditions, and community support. This decision clearly reiterates the Air Force's recognition of the great value Holloman adds,” Pearce said. "Stationing these squadrons at Holloman helps the Air Force attack their pilot shortage head on, putting the health of the Force first, while also supporting our service members and their families. Further utilization of Holloman allows our military to retain its air dominance and its ability to Fly-Fight-Win."