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The Oregon Air National Guard Base is Going to Get New Planes and a Major Makeover


The Air National Guard base in Portland, Oregon, is about to get 18 new jets and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of infrastructure upgrades. This is one of the biggest changes to Oregon’s defense in a generation.

The leader of the 142nd Civil Engineering Squadron, Lt. Col. Scott Wilcox, said, “This is a huge deal for Oregon.”

As of right now, the Oregon Air National Guard has 17 fighter jets, all F-15Cs, and 1,400 full-time and part-time members. Through Northern California and into Canada, it is their job to keep the air safe. If a Russian long-range bomber tests the country’s air defenses or if a commercial plane is taken over, pilots from Portland might send out two F-15Cs to look into it.

But the newest of those jets is from 1985. That’s like having Portland Police drive around the city in DeLoreans that are 40 years old.

Buttons and knobs are still used to control the planes. There are computers inside, but they’re very small and use technology from the 1970s.

“It looks like an 8-track cassette,” said Col. Mike Kosderka, who is in charge of the 142nd Wing and is a jet pilot.

“The planes we have now can’t jam signals.” We really don’t have any way to protect ourselves. All of that stuff is on the later planes.

The Oregon Air National Guard will get its first of about 18 new F-15EX planes this summer. Each one will cost $95 million. That adds up to about $1.7 billion.

The outdated planes will be taken to different Air National Guard sites and broken up into their parts.

“It’s hard to find parts for an airplane that old,” Kosderka said.

Boeing made the new fighter, which has a lot of secret military technology on board. Because of this, the base will also need a new hanger. It’s expected that the building will cost an extra $110 million.

Pilots will need to learn how to fly the new planes, but the base won’t be getting any more staff.

An environmental study was done on the new planes to see if they would make the area noisier or have any other bad effects. But the National Guard Bureau’s draft report says there will be “no significant impact.”

Kosderka said, “This brand-new plane will help us get back into the fight, stay alive, and help with the overall effort.”

The guard is also building a new place for the 125th Special Tactics Squadron to train. There are people in the Air Force who are like Green Berets in the Army. They are called “Quiet Professionals.”

About 100 highly skilled service members make up the squadron. They go on missions around the world to rescue people, do reconnaissance, find missing people, and do what the military calls “precision strike missions.”

Since this is the Air National Guard, Portland’s unit is mostly made up of older people who used to be in the military. As an example, after Hurricane Katrina, they helped with crisis relief and aid for people in need.

The plan for the new Special Tactics center was shown to OPB for a short time. It has a special gym, a room for maintaining diving gear, a room for simulating firefighting, and storage for their fleet of one-of-a-kind cars.

There is even a building where parachutes can be dried.

“It looks like a tall tower, and they hang them up there.” Wilcox said, “And the building has to have the right amount of heat and humidity to make sure it dries right.”

Wilcox says that Oregon is getting about 40% of the entire Air National Guard building budget for the year, which gives you an idea of how big the new training center is.

“As far as we can tell, the project will cost around $75 million,” Wilcox said. “This is the biggest single project in the history of the Air National Guard.”

With all the planned improvements to the Portland base, Wilcox thinks that the federal government could spend up to $500 million over the next five years. This does not include the cost of the new planes.

He said, “This is a huge deal for Oregon.”

Because it doesn’t have any active military bases, Oregon doesn’t get as much money from the military as other states.

Oregon has about 27 million people, but it spent about $1.2 billion on the military last year, which put it 42nd in terms of military spending. Washington came in at number 11 with $14 billion. This is because the state is home to Boeing, a big company that supplies armies all over the world, and has a number of active military bases.

Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and visited the 125th Special Tactics unit last year.

Merkley said, “I didn’t know about them before they asked us to help them.” “I went outside to look into it.”

He told them that their quarters looked crowded and didn’t have much room for training, so he helped them get money.

Next year, work will begin on the new building, and Oregon should get its first new jets in June. But people who aren’t used to seeing jets will think they look the same.

There are other military bases in Oregon that are going through big changes besides the Portland Air National Guard base.

The 116th Air Control Squadron, which is based at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, is changing from an Air Control Squadron (whose job it is to record air fights for commanders) to working on cyber defense.

Kosderka said, “That’s a huge change.” “Totally different goal, totally different mark.”

There will also be training for pilots to fly F-35s at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls. These jets are much more complicated and expensive than the F-15Cs they currently use.

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