The community learns about the pilot training center in Fort Smith

Area residents expressed their support and concerns about the pilot training center at the meeting.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — During the first of two scheduled virtual public scoping meetings regarding the Air Force’s proposal to establish a permanent Foreign Military Sales Pilot Training Center at the Air National Guard Base From Ebbing to Fort Smith, area residents expressed their support and concern for the mission.

The base was selected last year as the Air Force’s first choice for a long-term pilot training facility supporting F-16 and F-35 fighter jets purchased by participating nations the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. It is estimated that 345 US service members will be part of the center, along with more than 180 members of the Singapore unit and approximately 300 dependents. Training and aircraft from Finland and Poland may also be part of the FMS site in the future.

The proposed program would establish a pilot training facility that can accommodate up to 24 foreign F-35 aircraft at a time and the relocation of 12 Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 aircraft from the air base. from Luke, Arizona. It would also develop the infrastructure needed to support F-16 and F-35 aircraft and provide in-flight training, Air Education and Training Command promoter manager Patrick Jeanes said during the Zoom webinar on Tuesday evening (1st February).

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Milton S. Rodgers