SALEM, Ore. --
The Oregon Air National Guard received news Friday from the Secretary of the Air Force regarding the Air Force’s plans to replace the Oregon Air National Guard’s aging F-15C/D Eagles at both Oregon wings with the newly updated F-15EX model. Kingsley Field, Oregon in Klamath Falls, is scheduled to transition to the Air Force’s first F-15EX formal training mission beginning in 2022, and the Portland Air National Guard Base is scheduled to become the first operational F-15EX squadron in 2023.
The F-15C/D legacy platform is more than 40 years old and nearing the end of its service life. Whereas, the F-15EX, with a 20,000-hour airframe life, guarantees the long-term viability and extension of the mission of the Oregon Air National Guard for many years to come.
“This announcement gives all of our Airmen who work to fly, maintain and support the F-15, a great sense of purpose moving forward,” stated Maj. Gen. Mike Stencel, the Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard.
The F-15EX is a proven homeland defense platform and will complement other 5th generation fighters. With this updated platform also comes the capability for rapid insertion of new technologies which according to Boeing, is the most significant differentiator between the new version and legacy variants.
The decision to choose Oregon for the F-15EX transition highlights the importance and proven record of the Oregon Air National Guard’s F-15 missions. The Oregon Air National Guard provides both homeland defense, protecting the skies of the Pacific Northwest, and fighter pilot training to all F-15C/D pilots in both the active and reserve components of the Air Force.
"Now that we know what our future platform will be, we are committed to the same level of professionalism and dedication that we've demonstrated for decades," said Brig. Gen. Donna Prigmore, Commander, Oregon Air National Guard. "This is an exciting time for the Oregon Air National Guard and we embrace this new fleet of aircraft with absolute enthusiasm."
This news also comes as the nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting financial and employment impacts that face the state. The decision to choose Oregon for the F-15EX provides an opportunity to further the livelihood of Oregonians as the transition stimulates growth in the region.
“This is outstanding news for the 173rd Fighter Wing,” said Col. Jeffrey Edwards, 173rd FW commander at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon. “We have an extremely bright future as the F-15EX Formal Training Unit. With over 35 years of experience in training fighter pilots for the Air Force, Kingsley Field has proven itself as an outstanding location for fighter training. For over 20 years, we have been training pilots in the F-15 Eagle. We are excited to open up a new chapter of fighter training in the F-15EX.”
Edwards added, “Being selected as the F-15EX Formal Training Unit is a tremendous honor, and this wouldn’t have been possible without the phenomenal support from our community and local, state and national leaders. We are grateful for all they have done over the years to support the 173rd Fighter Wing. Team Kingsley is energized and motivated, and will continue to strive for excellence in our mission: ‘Train F-15 Pilots, Support Combat Operations, and Serve Oregon… America’s Air Superiority Starts Here!’”
“Absolutely I’m excited…it’s kind of hard to hold back,” said Colonel David N. Unruh, 142nd Wing commander at the Portland Air National Guard Base. “I want folks to be excited, I want them to recognize the opportunity we have here in Oregon. The more junior you are or younger you are in the organization, the more excited you should be because this is the airplane you’re going to serve your whole career with if you’re here at Portland.”