Reps. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), and John James (R-Mich.) have introduced a measure to sustain Air National Guard (ANG) fighter squadron force structure at the current level of 25 in 22 states.

Bacon, Lamborn, and Slotkin are members of the House Armed Services Committee, and Ruppersberger serves on the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee.

On May 17, the legislators said that they have introduced H.R. 3392, the Fighter Force Preservation and Recapitalization Act.

“This legislation prevents the closure of Air National Guard fighter squadrons at a time when pilot and maintenance manning are at critically low levels,” the lawmakers said. “The Air National Guard represents 30 percent of the Air Force fighter force and is responsible for 94 percent of homeland defense missions. On average, the pilots and maintainers are twice as experienced as their active duty counterparts. The Air Force must retain these valuable servicemembers as it seeks to divest legacy equipment, which is predominately found in the Air National Guard.”

Congressional appropriators said last year that a planned Air Force reduction in its total buy of Boeing [BA] F-15EX fighters from 144 to 80 “leaves in doubt the status and future of F-l5C/D units, several of which are housed in the Air National Guard” (Defense Daily, Dec. 20, 2022). The Air Force fiscal 2024 budget outlines a total buy of 104 F-15EXs.

‘The Air National Guard is no longer the strategic reserve of the 1980s and 1990s,” Bacon said in the lawmakers’ May 17 statement on the new bill. “These units deploy globally to meet combatant commander requirements while simultaneously defending the homeland. We must ensure the most important part of our fighter force – the Airmen — are retained as fighter recapitalization decisions are made. Every pilot and aircraft maintainer matters, and our nation simply cannot afford continued loss of these highly trained personnel.”