The Department of the Air Force announced plans today to make space for a larger fighter presence at Nellis Air Force Base by realigning the base’s close air support and rescue missions to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, starting in fiscal year 2022.
Moving the fourth-generation A-10 Thunderbolt II and HH-60 Pave Hawk squadrons from Nellis AFB will free additional range capacity necessary to test and train warfighters in fifth-generation aircraft and allow personnel recovery units to take advantage of the synergy provided by collocating with other rescue units.
The A-10 Weapons Instructor Course and Test and Evaluation operations will transition in 2022. The HH-60 WIC, Test and combat coded units to include the 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron, 66th Rescue Squadron, 58th Rescue Squadron, the 34th Weapons Squadron and the 855th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron will move beginning in 2024.
“Our nation and joint force commanders depend on us to control and exploit the air,” said Gen. Mark D. Kelly, commander, Air Combat Command. “To do that, we need the additional range and aircraft maintenance infrastructure capacity at Nellis (AFB) to fully test and train with our most advanced capabilities. Our rescue squadrons will continue to train and hone their critical skills in support of operational missions from their new location.”
Currently, Nellis AFB is on track to receive F-35A Lightning IIs to support F-35 operational test requirements and additional F-35As from Eglin AFB, Florida, as part of the reactivation of the 65th Aggressor Squadron and additional F-22 Raptors for testing from Tyndall AFB, Florida.
The Air Force is also proposing improvements to the Nevada Test and Training Range to further support the infrastructure required for current and future testing and training. It is the only location that can train fifth-generation systems in a live environment.