WASHINGTON – The Air Force announced today Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, as its preferred alternative to potentially host a Royal Saudi Air Force F-15SA maintenance and flying training unit in the United States.
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 the Saudis to locate the potential mission at the base.
“Saudi Arabia is a valuable long-term U.S. partner in the Gulf. 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,” said Heidi Grant, deputy under secretary of the Air Force for international affairs. “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 and 100 to 200 maintenance personnel. The number of unaccompanied versus accompanied personnel and permanent party versus temporary students has yet to be determined.
The U.S. Air Force 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.