Pentagon's Budget for 2015 Gives 122nd Fighter Wing New Mission


Published 03/05 2014 01:39PM

Updated 03/05 2014 02:00PM

The Pentagon's budget for 2015 was released and at $496 billion dollars, this is the start of an estimated $75 billion in cuts over the next 2 years.   Cutting almost 3700 troops, capping troop pay raises to 1% when the national average is 1.8% and reducing family support programs.

While cuts are being felt across the country, there is good news for Fort Wayne.  WFFT's Brooke Welch was at the 122nd Fighter Wing and explains how this budget has given the Fighter Wing a new mission.

The 122nd Fighter Wing has almost a 70 year history and now with the passing of the budget, they'll go back to flying F-16's.  A plane they've flown in previous years.

"It 's a great day in Fort Wayne.  I'm extremely proud.  God bless you all."

The Fighter Wing flew F-16's from 1991 until 2010, when they were replaced with A-10's.  Major General Martin Umbarger explains the conversion just a few years ago.

"Our nation needed us to switch to another aircraft, and like being good Hoosiers we are, we saluted the flag, we accepted the missions, and all of you began to convert."

Then nearly 18 months later, the Fighter Wing found out A-10's would be phased out in 2014.  Colonel David Augustine says that wasn't good news at the time.

"To be in a mission that is going to go away without another following mission, it would have been traumatic to this wing."

The transition to the F-16's is expected to go smoothly, and they look forward to flying them for the next few years.  They are also looking ahead to the future when the new F-35's come into play and the F-16's are phased out.

"Fly those F-16's until the early 20's, so 2024, and then hopefully start our conversion into the Joint Strike Fighter at that time.  There's a whole selection process behind that, so it's going to take an entire state to wrap this thing up."

A good record and being flexible in their support of the country is one of the way the Fighter Wing has been able to stay relevant in today's changing environment.

"You must keep your eyes on the strategic future, otherwise you get distracted.  You may not end up with a future."

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