Washington, D.C.--U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) co-led a bipartisan, bicameral letter with U.S. Representative John James (R-Michigan), Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) and Representative Don Bacon (R-Nebraska), along with 47 other Members of Congress, including Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall regarding the critical importance of fleet leveling for the Air National Guard (ANG).
Fleet leveling would temporarily redistribute fighters across the Total Force to prevent the near-term closure of ANG squadrons while fighter procurement catches up. Fleet leveling is not a permanent fix, but a necessary stopgap to keep fighter squadrons open across the country during a time that the U.S. is facing threats from peer adversaries like China, Russia and Iran.
“Fleet leveling is an efficient interim solution to the challenge facing the Air Force – how to deter China with both the capacity and capability of advanced fighters, given fiscal and production constraints,” the letter reads. “Fleet leveling temporarily balances fighters across active duty, ANG, and AFRC squadrons to allow time for industry production capacity to catch up with demand. Most importantly, fleet leveling prevents the closure of fighter squadrons across the Total Force, thereby preserving critical capacity that would otherwise be forever lost.”
“As the United States continues to face external threats from adversaries like Russia, China and Iran, it is more important than ever to maintain and protect National Guard fighter squadrons,” said Crapo. “I am committed to working closely with the U.S. Air Force to preserve the critical role Air National Guard fighter units--like the Idaho National Guard’s 190th Fighter Squadron--play in protecting our national security. Fleet leveling is the best interim solution to preserve readiness across the country.”
The letter builds on Crapo’s previous efforts to preserve the Air Force fighter force structure. In July, Crapo and Hickenlooper introduced the Fighter Force Preservation and Recapitalization Act, legislation to the prevent the closure of ANG fighter squadrons. Senators Risch and Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) are also original co-sponsors of the legislation.
Read the letter here.