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The US Air Force (USAF) has selected preferred locations for its future F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter, KC-46A Pegasus and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft.

The Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, is the preferred location for the first Air Force Reserve-led F-35 base.

The Fort Worth base is expected to receive its first F-35As in the mid-2020s.

"The location will provide mission synergy and access to an experienced workforce for recruiting as a result of its proximity to the F-35 manufacturing plant."

USAF secretary Deborah Lee James said: "We selected the Air Force Reserve unit in Fort Worth because it is the location that meets all of the necessary training requirements at the lowest cost.

“Additionally, the location will provide mission synergy and access to an experienced workforce for recruiting as a result of its proximity to the F-35 manufacturing plant."

A total of 24 KC-46A aircraft will also replace the existing aircraft at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst in New Jersey, and Travis Air Force Base (AFB) in California.

The USAF has already selected Altus AFB, Oklahoma; McConnell AFB, Kansas; Pease Air National Guard Station, New Hampshire; and Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina; as future KC-46 basing locations.

The first KC-46As are expected to begin arriving at McConnell and Altus AFBs later this year.

The USAF chose Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina as the preferred location to base a new MQ-9 Reaper group, including mission control elements.

Another location is also being considered to base an MQ-9 wing that includes up to 24 MQ-9s, launch-and-recovery elements, a mission control element, a maintenance group and support personnel.


Image: Two F-35As in flight. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.