Fresno’s Air National Guard base has been selected to house a squadron of advanced fighter jets to replace its current fleet of aging F-15 aircraft, the Air Force announced Tuesday.
The Air Force said Fresno’s 144th Fighter Wing is the preferred location for a squadron of 18 F-15EX Strike Eagles, a highly advanced modern version of the venerable airframe that first appeared in the 1970s. Fresno pilots currently fly F-15C Eagles, which were first introduced in 1976. The Air Force is looking to retire all of its F-15C and F-15D aircraft.
“I’m extremely passionate about the 144th Fighter Wing and the pride it brings to Fresno,” said Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer in a news release on Wednesday. “We’ve been happy to advocate for the 144th and we are beyond excited to have this incredible asset added to our base, while also keeping jobs and people here. It’s an honor to have this squadron based in Fresno and defending the entire western United States.”
The final basing decision is contingent on the completion of an environmental impact analysis, the Air Force said, which is expected to be completed by the spring of 2024. The service has not said when the new aircraft might arrive in Fresno.
F-15EX Strike Eagles come with stronger airframes than earlier versions, more powerful processors and advanced flight control systems, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service.