Mayor Swearengin Praises Coordinated Effort In Protecting 144th Fighter Wing From Budget Cuts
– Mayor Ashley Swearengin today praised a coordinated effort involving the San Joaquin Valley’s congressional delegation, Gov. Jerry Brown’s office and the California National Guard for protecting the 144th Fighter Wing from federal budget cuts.
“The 144th Fighter Wing has been an important part of the Fresno community and the state of California for more than 50 years,” said Mayor Swearengin, who met with National Guard officials in Washington, D.C., last week about the future of the 144th. “When we heard about discussions about regarding cutting the 144th, we realized that such a move would pose a threat not just to our area’s economy but to our overall national security efforts.
“Our delegation of elected officials in Washington, working with Gov. Brown’s office and the California National Guard, moved quickly to make a compelling case for keeping the 144th Fighter Wing operating here,” Mayor Swearengin said. “I want to particularly thank Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Congressmen Devin Nunes, Jim Costa and Jeff Denham for all of their hard work.”
Mayor Swearengin joined Congressman Devin Nunes and Jim Costa and Maj. Gen. Baldwin at a news conference today to provide an update on the status of the 144th.
Recent federal-level discussions on how to best deal with the required Department of Defense budget cuts included a proposal to eliminate the 144th Fighter Wing. However, current cost-cutting proposals no longer include eliminating the 144th.
As a result, the Fresno area will continue to receive the economic benefits of the 144th Fighter Wing, Mayor Swearengin said. According to the California National Guard, the 144th Fighter Wing employs more than 1,050 Airmen, a number that will increase with the conversion to the F-15 aircraft. The 144th Fighter Wing is home to more than $950 million in equipment and facilities, and more than $70 million is spent annually to sustain operations.
Plans to convert the 144th Fighter Wing from F-16 to F-15 aircraft are continuing. The first F-15s are scheduled to arrive in August. By December, 16 of the 21 F-15s will be in Fresno, and the remainder will arrive early next spring.
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