Rep. Jim Costa, whose district includes the 144th Fighter Wing, was joined by fellow Valley Congressmen Devin Nunes and David Valadao on a letter to the Air Force expressing their continued support for the proposed F-15 aircraft conversion. As required by the National Environmental Protection Act, the Air Force released a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that reflects favorably on the conversion from the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft to the F-15 Eagle aircraft at the 144th Fighter Wing at Fresno-Yosemite International Airport.
The Final EIS states that Fresno-Yosemite (IAP) "has been determined to be the only geographic location that satisfies the purpose and need to support the [Aerospace Control Alert] mission due to its central location along the west coast of the U.S."
Rep. Jim Costa: "The men and women of the 144th are on call to protect and serve, and their Valley delegation is standing united to make sure the Fighter Wing has all the tools necessary to complete their mission. The 144th is critical to maintain air superiority in the Southwest, and keeping the F-15 conversion on track will enhance their ability to keep our skies safe."
Rep. Devin Nunes:"As illustrated in a recent Air Force report, the stationing of F-15s in Fresno is crucial for the success of the Aerospace Control Alert mission. This action is vital to the servicemen and women at the 144th Fighter Wing and to our overall defense posture on the West Coast. "
Rep. David Valadao: "Securing the proper resources to protect and defend our airspace on the West Coast is of utmost importance. Additionally, the local economy will benefit from the addition of these aircraft which will work to ensure that the 114th Fighter Wing will continue to play a crucial role in protecting our country."
The Final EIS anticipates that the conversion will require some minor construction projects at the Wing, which would result in short-term economic benefits to the economy. Conversion to the F-15 mission would also add an additional 22 military positions at the 144th, and total payroll associated with these new employees would amount to an estimated salary increase of more than $1.5 million.
The final EIS is open for public comment until April 1, 2013. Following the comment period, the Air Force will review public input and release a Record of Decision (ROD), which will announce the final decision on the F-15 conversion. The ROD is expected later this year.