According to a new RAND Corp. report, the United States Air Force should consider moving certain fighter squadrons to modernized installations to avoid losing out on the advanced training capacities inherent to certain upgraded facilities.

The USAF’s current range modernization plan on upgrading 8-9 ranges; this could limit the number of pilots that can take advantage of the modernized facilities. The report calls for moving 10 to 20 squadrons in order to ensure infrastructure upgrades are worthwhile.

“The one-time cost for restationing a fighter squadron and the cost to procure equipment for a single range modernization are on the same order of magnitude,” according to the report. “However, when research and development and operation and sustainment costs are taken into account, range upgrades may be substantially more expensive over the long term.”

As far as specifics to basing changes, the report did not go into the granular details. The report also cites that taking advantage of virtual training could help fill the capacity for limited access to advanced ranges.

“It is too early to advocate for specific basing actions because of training and basing details that still need to be resolved… USAF will need to consider air-to-air training airspace available in addition to the access to ground ranges.”

Air Force Magazine reports that advanced fighter fleets (i.e. F-22 and F-35 programs) could be at most risk if basing is not considered without foresight to appropriate access to advanced and modernized facilities.

Photo by Nicholas J. De La Pena