During a fantastic brief put on by the 99th ABW Public Affairs unit at Nellis AFB during last month’s RED FLAG air war exercise, I asked the commanding officer of the 65th Aggressor Squadron, the guys who fly those eclectically painted F-15s as bad guys for Red Flag and other adversary training events, if they were going to disband as rumored, and if so would the USAF’s F-15 aggressor mission come to an end. Lt. Col Paul “Huge” Johnson, the commander of the 65th AGRS, informed me that at this time it looks like the 65th AGRS will in fact disband and five of it’s 19 F-15C/D Eagles will be transferred most likely to Klamath Falls or possibly put into attrition reserve, while the squadron’s remaining 14 aircraft will be integrated into their sister squadron, the 64th AGRS, who currently fly the block 32 F-16C. “Huge” stated that a big part of why the 65th would be disbanded was to help create more fighter pilots for the USAF as the service is currently experience a critically low inventory of qualified fast jet aircrews. Hence five of their jets being most likely transferred to America’s only F-15C/D school house in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
So there is a mixed bag of news here, on one hand the USAF will lose it’s only dedicated heavy fighter aggressor squadron. On the other hand the 64th, operating as composite squadron, will continue to offer the F-15’s potent adversary capabilities in the future. Keep in mind all this is in light of the current half a trillion-dollar Pentagon budget cut, if the additional “sequestration” budget cut is also enacted the USAF will see further, much more profound gutting. Sadly, non-combat coded squadrons will be a prime target for which to find future savings if the budgetary bloodletting continues.