KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – In a press conference Wednesday Colonel Lee Bouma, the Commander of the 173rd Fighter Wing said, Kingsley Field is excited to train future generations of fighter pilots.
Last week the Air Force announced Kingsley Field will be the preferred host of the next F-35 Pilot Training Squadron.
“The F-35 is the Air Force’s latest 5th generation fighter that’s needed especially in today’s world of emerging near pier threats,” said Colonel Bouma.
The current F-15s that the 173rd trains with were made 50 years ago. The F-35s have been around for less than a decade.
Colonel Bouma said this new mission is also exciting for the future of the base, and the greater Klamath Basin community.
“Our economic impact of 100 million dollars plus within our area being the second largest employer in Klamath Falls, obviously, this is a huge win for the community that we live in, to be able to provide that stable of a future for a least the next couple of decades,” said Colonel Bouma.
He said Kingsley Field will be number three in training F-35 pilots, behind Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
“This announcement secures the future of Kingsley Field and the Klamath Basin for the next 20-plus years,” said Colonel Bouma.
The F-35s aren’t arriving anytime soon. The decision becomes final when the secretary of the air force signs a Record of Decision. That is expected to be completed sometime in 2025.
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