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188th officials ‘laser-focused’ on new mission; Michigan senators’ objections not likely to reverse decision

Up to 36 aircraft will be part of the center, with F-16’s of the Republic of Singapore 425th Fighter Squadron arriving in 2023 and the advanced F-35’s in 2026.

FORT SMITH, Arkansas — Decisions about facility renovation, new construction and other practical matters are part of the process for the U.S. Air Force pilot training center coming to Fort Smith, and objections to the decision are not likely to change a final decision set for spring 2023.

The acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth selected Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith to be the 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.

Officials announced the selection process on July 20, 2020. 

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the federal agency managing the FMS, notes that the program provides “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.”

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