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Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

188th officer says Fort Smith is ‘better positioned’ than other airbases for pilot training center

The Fort Smith Air National Guard Base is one of five Air Force finalist sites for a long-term pilot training center supporting F-16 and F-35 fighter planes.
Credit: KFSM

FORT SMITH, Ark. — A play on acronyms is part of the messaging Leon Dodroe and Jeremiah Gentry hope will convince the U.S. Air Force to select Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith as a long-term pilot training center supporting F-16 and F-35 fighter planes purchased by U.S. allies.

It was announced July 20 that Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith is one of five Air Force finalist sites for a long-term pilot training center supporting F-16 and F-35 fighter planes purchased by Singapore, Switzerland and other countries participating in the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

The other finalist sites are Hulman Field, Buckley Air Force Base, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and Selfridge Air National Guard Base. 

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett signed a memo July 6 to create one U.S. site for pilot training for up to 36 F-35 fighters and an F-16 base for the Republic of Singapore. 

The F-16s are now located at Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix.

Watch: 188th Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard

Proud to Serve

The men and women of the 188th Wing are always ready to serve this great nation, and proud to do it! #ANG #AirNationalGuard #FortSmith #Arkansas #AlwaysReadyAlwaysThere #NationalGuard

Posted by 188th Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard on Friday, November 3, 2017

According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the federal agency managing the FMS, the program is responsible arms sales to further national security and foreign policy objectives by strengthening bilateral defense relations, supporting coalition building, and enhancing interoperability between U.S. forces and militaries of friends and allies. 

These sales also contribute to American prosperity by improving the U.S. balance of trade position, sustaining highly skilled jobs in the defense industrial base, and extending production lines and lowering unit costs for key weapon systems.

To read more of this story visit our partner in content, Talk Business & Politics.