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Mark Begich is Committed to Alaska’s Air Force


Mark Begich is committed to growing and maintaining Alaska’s military infrastructure and missions. In the U.S. Senate, Senator Mark Begich used his clout to deliver results and increased resources to Alaska’s military members and installations.

Begich fought to keep F-16s at Eielson Air Force Base saving thousands of jobs, pushed for Eielson Air Force Base to be named the preferred location of two new squadrons of F-35s and successfully advocated for additional F-22s to be placed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

“Thousands of Alaskans serve in Alaska’s Air Force and Mark Begich deeply appreciates their service and fights to make sure they have the resources necessary to accomplish their missions. Mark Begich is proud to work with the Alaska delegation towards delivering the F-35s to Fairbanks, the largest economic investment in Interior Alaska since TAPS. And Mark Begich remains committed to keeping the F-16s at Eielson and working to protect the F-22s at JBER during his second term,” said Max Croes, Communications Director for Alaskans for Begich.



Deliver F-35s to Eielson Air Force Base:

Fairbanks News-Miner Editorial Praised Congressional Delegation For Efforts To Secure F-35 Squadron For Eielson. Wrote the editorial board of the Fairbanks News-Miner in October 2013, “With the F-16 squadron at Eielson Air Force Base more secure, attention now turns to the possibility that the military installation a few dozen miles southeast of Fairbanks could host the next-generation fighter jet, the F-35. It’s good to see Alaska’s congressional delegation advocating for that outcome.” [Editorial, Fairbanks News-Miner, 10/15/13]

Begich, Murkowski & Young Wrote To Air Force Leadership To Press For F-35 Squadron At Eielson. Reported the Associated Press in October 2013, “Alaska’s congressional delegation is lobbying Air Force leaders to base F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks. U.S. Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski, along with Rep. Don Young, sent a letter to Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning and Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Walsh touting the value and strategic location of Eielson. Once destined for part-time status, the Air Force earlier this month decided to keep an F-16 squadron at Eielson and not move it to an Anchorage base. The delegation says in a release that the Air Force plans to release an initial candidate base for the F-35s in late November and a preferred list by February.” [Associated Press, 10/16/13]

U.S. Air Force Selected Eielson As The Leading Site To House Two F-35 Squadrons Consisting Of 24 Planes Each. “Eielson Air Force Base is the leading candidate among Pacific air bases to house two squadrons of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. Eielson, near North Pole, had been on a short list of five candidates prior to an announcement Thursday morning. Eielson is named as the preferred site for the F-35s, although the announcement notes that the final decision will depend on an environmental study scheduled to finish in November 2015. Each squadron consists of 24 planes and would require hundreds of civilians and airmen at the base, a potential boon to the economy of whichever community is picked.” [Fairbanks News-Miner, 8/7/14]

Air Force Locating 48 F-35 Fighter Jets At Eielson Would Bring About 3,000 Military And Civilians Jobs To The North Pole Area. “Earlier this month the Air Force announced that Eielson Air Force Base is the ‘preferred alternative’ to host two squadrons of F-35 aircraft, the Air Force’s newest fighter jet. Such a move would bring 48 aircraft and about 3,000 military and civilian jobs to the North Pole area. The planes wouldn’t arrive until at least 2019. The Air Force doesn’t plan to officially pick the next F-35 base until fall of 2015, although the service has confirmed that no other bases besides Eielson are being studied.” [Fairbanks News-Miner, 8/22/14]

Keep F-16s at Eielson Air Force Base:

Begich, On Defense Nominations: “We Are Putting Them On Hold Until We Get Answers [For] Alaskans.” Reported the Air Force Times in May 2012, “Begich said Carlisle’s promotion to four-star and commander of Pacific Air Forces is stalled until the Air Force provides an explanation for moving the fighters and airmen from Eielson. He also wants to know how much money it will save. ‘We had to take a pretty dramatic step here and say, ‘You’re not going to have any more people coming over to the Defense Department,’’ Begich said in a video explaining his decision. ‘We are putting them on hold until we get answers for the Alaskans who are asking us every day: ‘What is the Air Force’s plan, how are they going to save money and what are their long-term plans for Eielson?’’” [Air Force Times, 5/7/12]

Begich Successfully Added Committee Amendment To Defense Bill To Call For One-Year Moratorium On Any Changes To Force Structure At Eielson. Reported KTUU in May 2012, “For months now, Alaska’s congressional delegation has been working to stop the Air Force from moving a squadron of F-16 fighter jets from Fairbanks to Anchorage. Now Alaska lawmakers have added a delay tactic to their efforts. This week a Senate committee approved an amendment to a defense budget bill that calls for a one-year moratorium on any changes to the force structure at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks. The amendment was proposed by Sen. Mark Begich. Since February Begich, along with the rest of Alaska’s delegation — Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young — have teamed up with leaders in the Fairbanks North Star Borough to fight an Air Force plan that will shift some 18 fighter jets and about 500 military and civilian workers to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.” [KTUU, 5/24/12]

Begich, Murkowski & Young Confirmed Air Force Had Officially Abandoned Plan To Relocate Eielson’s F-16 Squadron After Two Year Struggle. Reported the Fairbanks News-Miner in October 2013, “Alaska’s congressional delegation confirmed Wednesday that the Air Force has abandoned plans to move Eielson Air Force Base’s F-16 squadron to Anchorage. The delegation announced the news Wednesday afternoon during a telephone news conference. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the information came from a meeting with top Pentagon officials, Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning and Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Herbert ‘Hawk’ Carlisle. ‘It’s great news. It’s been a push,’ Fairbanks North Star Borough Luke Hopkins said. ‘It’s like the clouds have cleared, and there’s a sharp view of what’s ahead for us.’ The announcement ends an almost two-year struggle against the Air Force’s proposal waged by Fairbanks community leaders and the Alaska congressional delegation. The struggle started in February 2012 when the Air Force announced plans to move the 21-plane 18th Aggressor Squadron to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson as a cost-cutting measure.” [Fairbanks News-Miner, 10/2/13]

Protect F-22s at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson:

June 2010: Begich Wrote To Air Force Secretary And Chief Of Staff To Urge Military To Station Additional F-22s At Elmendorf. Reported Air Force Magazine in June 2010, “Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (D) wants USAF to increase the number of F-22 fighters stationed in his state at Joint Base Elmendorf. Currently Elmendorf hosts 40 Raptors. Begich contends that this total isn’t enough to meet mission demands, including air sovereignty alert. ‘Nowhere is the need for additional [F-22 primary assigned aircraft] more evident and deliberate than Elmendorf,’ he wrote in a letter last week to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz.” [Air Force Magazine, 6/15/10]

July 2010: Air Force Announced It Would Station An Additional Six F-22s, More Than 100 New Personnel At Elmendorf. Reported the Anchorage Daily News in July 2010, “Alaska’s Elmendorf Air Force Base will pick up six new F-22 fighter jets as the Air Force consolidates the planes at four bases with existing squadrons of the aircraft. The Air Force announced Thursday that Elmendorf will get the planes from squadrons being deactivated at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. One of the Holloman squadrons will relocate to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.; the other squadron is being split up at four bases across the country, including Elmendorf. Elmendorf now has 36 F-22s. The six new jets are expected to bring an additional 102 military personnel to Alaska by the fall of 2011, pending an environmental review.” [Anchorage Daily News, 7/29/10]

To learn more about how Senator Mark Begich will continue his commitment to fighting for our servicemembers and their families, visit his Military and Military Families Plan.