By Master Sgt. Craig Michael
138th Fighter Wing
With considerations on the horizon for any future F-35A or F-15X basing decisions, the 138th Fighter Wing has focused on improving operational training infrastructure, installation facilities, weapon system sustainment and support of the F-16CM mission, displaying the Wing as an excellent candidate to receive a next generation fighter.
To discuss the posture of a future fighter air frame to Tulsa, leadership from the 138th Fighter Wing and Oklahoma National Guard sat down with the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe.
“Oklahoma military communities, particularly the Oklahoma National Guard, enjoys a great relationship with Chairman Inhofe and his staff,” said Director of Government Affairs, Brig. Gen. Brent Wright, Oklahoma National Guard. “It’s always a tremendous honor to have the chairman of the Armed Services Committee visit his hometown Air National Guard Base.”
Sen. Inhofe commended the Wing on how exceptional the fleet continues to operate at a high level due to maintenance upgrades but also expressed his concern with the aging Tulsa jets.
“There’s one problem, we’ve done too good of a job on upgrading our aircraft,” said Inhofe. “That’s one thing that doesn’t work in our favor, because another base in need of newer equipment could possibly be first for a next generation fighter.”
What does work in Tulsa’s favor is expanded airspace, advanced ranges, great weather and installation infrastructure upgrades that have been planned, designed and executed with future mission compatibility built-in.
A substantial upgrade the 138 FW executed was a City of Tulsa Vision 2025 initiative Mission Training Center that houses four state-of-the-art F-16CM simulators with an option to easily support future air frame simulators. The MTC facility is the largest in the Air National Guard, able to support F-16 aircrew from all over the nation to train in Tulsa.
“We have the best F-16 unit in the country, and they’re doing a tremendous job, but we want what’s best for the future of the 138th Fighter Wing and the state of Oklahoma,” said Inhofe.