Arkansas air base to hold military pilot training
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Edited News Release/KAIT) – On Wednesday, March 15, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, and Congressman Steve Womack applauded the U.S. Air Force’s selection of Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith as the home of the Foreign Military Sales mission that will bring F-35 fighter planes and a Republic of Singapore F-16 squadron to the installation.
“Today’s Record of Decision makes clear and cements Arkansas’ important role in training, equipping, and supplying our friends across the globe. This also means bringing jobs and economic prosperity to the state. I look forward to welcoming the new U.S. Air Force personnel who will be moving to our state and am excited for all our international partners to discover the meaning of Arkansas hospitality. The Arkansas Congressional Delegation and the Fort Smith community were instrumental in securing this major new mission for Ebbing Air National Guard Base – they have my deepest gratitude for their hard work,” Sanders said.
“This is a game-changer for Fort Smith and our state that will enhance economic development and opportunity in the region and strengthen Arkansas’s role in defending our national security,” Boozman said. “The Arkansas Congressional Delegation has worked tirelessly along with state and community leaders to demonstrate to the Air Force what we all knew – Fort Smith is the best location for this mission.”
“I’m pleased that the Air Force has selected Fort Smith as the location for this training mission, another positive step in bringing a manned flying mission back to Arkansas. I will continue to work with the Air Force, our congressional delegation, and Governor Sanders to bring the sound of freedom back to the River Valley,” Cotton said.
“Today’s Record of Decision makes official what Arkansans have known since the start of this process—Fort Smith is the premier location for F-35 FMS training and Singapore’s F-16 mission. Fort Smith’s central location, existing infrastructure, and airspace were essential differentiators but the people of Fort Smith and their desire to support national defense were truly the deciding factors. I’m proud the Air Force has made this final decision and look forward to hearing the ‘Sound of Freedom’ soon in the River Valley,” Womack said.
Since 2021, when the U.S. Air Force announced Ebbing Air National Guard Base as its preferred location for these missions, members of the delegation have worked to strengthen relationships with Singapore leaders and allies who have an interest in enhancing their air power with the F-35 in addition to recently securing $28 million to support the F-35 FMS program.
State leaders have delivered critical funding in support of an expanded runway and community leaders have demonstrated their commitment to investments in this project, warm welcomes to foreign dignitaries, and a widespread embrace of the project at public comment events.
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