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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Implications of Gates' budget proposeal for Alabama

Gates wants to speed up the F-35 program and Alabama is on the Air Force's road map for possible future sites of new weapons systems.

Currently, the 1987th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field has 20 F-16 fighter jets and more are coming this year. The new aircraft and about 100 additional people are part of the last Base Realignment and Closure process.

In addition to those new people, about 150 active duty maintenance airmen and about 20 active duty pilots are due to join the unit by 2013 as part of the Air Force's total force integration initiative, Col. Jeff Smiley, commander of the 187th, said in December.

Gates' plan also calls for moving forward with the tanker contract, which could be good for Alabama if Northrop-Grumman/EADS wins the rebid as it did in the initial bid process. The corporation would assemble the tankers in Mobile, meaning jobs and money for Alabama.

Another interesting line in Gates' proposal is that he would eliminate 250 of the Air Force's oldest tactical aircraft. The F-15 is an older plane and there are some older F-16s. Most of the F-16s at Dannelly were built in 1987 and 1988. The A-10 could also fall under this. Retiring that many aircraft could cause a reorganization of fighter wings.

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I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 


As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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