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Air Force proposes adding 23 F-15s, F-16s at Nellis

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNEWS) -- The Air Force is proposing to base 23 additional F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons here and to add about 520 people as a result of changes mandated by the recent Base Realignment and Closure process.

Under the proposed action, the 64th Aggressor Squadron would receive five F-16 aircraft and the 65th Aggressor Squadron would receive 18 F-15s in fiscal years 2007, 2010 and 2011.

The proposed changes are detailed in an environmental assessment available for public comment through Feb. 12.

The Base Realignment and Closure Environmental Assessment for Realignment of Nellis AFB is available at libraries in Clark, Lincoln and Nye counties, as well as on the Web at www.nellis.af.mil/library/environment.asp. The public comment period began Jan. 12.

The 64th and 65th Aggressor Squadrons prepare U.S. and allied aircrews through realistic and challenging training and education. Aggressor pilots simulate foreign-made combat aircraft and use actual tactics of air forces worldwide.

The base populace would increase by 464 active duty and civilians, and 60 part-time Air Force Reserve Airmen.

To support the aircraft and additional people, construction would include 11 new and modified buildings. Construction would take place between fiscal years 2007 and 2009.

Proposed construction includes a squadron operations building, three hangars, a 375,000-square-foot parking ramp, various maintenance shops, and a building to house flight simulators.

Air Force officials said the environmental assessment also looks at a supplemental action that would bring another eight F-16 aircraft to the 64th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis AFB. This supplemental proposal would add another 45 people and seven additional construction projects.

Currently, the 64th has 11 F-16s while the 65th has six F-15s. Under the BRAC realignment, the 64th would grow to 16 aircraft, less than a full squadron, while the 65th would grow to 24 aircraft. Officials said the supplemental action would bring the 64th up to full strength with 24 F-16 aircraft.

Factors studied in the document include noise, air quality, socioeconomics and infrastructure, water and soil resources, biological resources, cultural resources, and hazardous materials and waste.

Officials said the addition of 23 aircraft to Nellis AFB would not increase environmental impacts because the proposed action would be off-set by a decrease in the number of temporary-duty aircraft at the base.

Aggressor aircraft are currently assisted by aircraft belonging to other Air Force units that are temporarily deployed to Nellis AFB. With additional aircraft assigned to the Aggressor squadrons, officials said the temporary deployments of aircraft to assist the Aggressors would no longer be necessary.

The eight-aircraft supplemental proposal would increase the number of sorties at Nellis AFB by about 1,400 annually, officials said. A sortie is one takeoff and one landing by one aircraft. Nellis AFB averages about 43,000 sorties per year.

There are 125 aircraft permanently based at Nellis: F-15, F-16, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, F-22 Raptors and HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters. Under the BRAC proposal, the total number of aircraft would increase to 148. The supplemental proposal would bring the total to 156.