BY TOM BUSSELBERG
HILL AFB — Although F-16 pilots in the 4th Squadron of the 388th Fighter Wing based at Hill AFB will “stand down” later this year, the end of combat shouldn’t have any significant impact on maintaining fighter readiness.
“There will be some impact on our wing’s operational readiness, but our priority will still be to remain as mission ready as possible,” said 388th Fighter Wing spokesperson Andrea Mason said Wednesday.
About 200 airmen, including pilots, were deployed to the Asia Pacific region last October, she said.
The uncertainty as to what action North Korea could take, if any, could be a factor in their return, the press reports said.
“It (stand down) will really only impact the pilots in the 4th Squadron,” Mason said.
Those whose mission is to maintain aircraft will continue, possibly by transferring to another unit, she said.
Pilots are assigned to specific squadrons and can only fly with them, Mason said.
The 388th Fighter Wing also hosts the 421st Squadron, which is due to fly its mission until the end of September. That’s the end of the fiscal year, Mason explained.
“They’ll still be flying. They’ll be ready to go at a moment’s notice to protect the nation,” she said.
“Hopefully things will change. My commander (Col. Scott C. Long) said there is still some uncertainty. There has been a lot of fluctuation in the budget,” she said.
“The Air Force will begin to stand down active duty combat units starting today to ensure remaining units supporting worldwide operations can maintain sufficient readiness through the remainder of the fiscal year,” a press release issued Tuesday by Air Combat Command Public Affairs said.