Tuesday, the Air National Guard Base in Fresno took delivery of its first F-15 Eagle Fighter Jet. The aircraft was transferred in from Montana.
"This has been a work in progress since 2005, so we're talking eight years for a conversion. It's a big deal," said Lt. Col. Dave Johnston.
Fresno has flown F-16s for the past quarter century. The newer F-15s are a faster, more precise piece of machinery which are equipped with an elaborate radar system.
"The F-15 is designed strictly for the air to air dominance mission, so the weapons system is optimized to find the smallest targets, the fastest targets no matter how low or no matter how high," said Col. Clay Garrison of the 144th Fighter Wing.
Last year, the 144th Fighter Wing of Fresno's Air National Guard faced the threat of being shutdown. But local residents and lawmakers saved it.
"I'm so grateful to everyone who did their part to make sure this transition did in fact happen," said Ashley Swearengin, Mayor of Fresno.
The Air Force has committed to have this as its standard air defense fighter jet for the next three decades. Meaning veteran pilots like Col. Clay Garrison, who have only flown the F-16, must enter new territory.
"So I will go to training in the F-15 in the fall and I’ll learn to fly a new airplane. I'm looking forward to it actually," said Col. Garrison.
Over the next few months the base will bring in about 20 more F-15s. As for the old F-16s, they will be transferred to Arizona to be used for training.
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