Fort Wayne's Air National Guard base might learn next spring whether it will retain its mission as a fighter wing, base commander Col. David Augustine said Wednesday.
If the 122nd Fighter Wing does keep its A-10 combat jets, the base likely will add active-duty airmen for the first time in 67 years, Augustine said.
"I'm excited about that prospect," he said at the 122nd Fighter Wing's Media Day.
Augustine said the Ferguson Road base, where 1,200 people work in full- and part-time capacities, would be a candidate to add 100 active-duty personnel thanks to "the blending" of active-duty airmen, Air Guard and Reserves under Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff since August.
The base also would be looking at replacing its A-10 planes in the 2020s with the Air Force's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Augustine said.
But those initiatives hinge on whether the Air Force and Congress decide to extend the A-10 mission when they hash out fiscal 2014 budget proposals in the spring.
"Hopefully, we'll keep the A-10s here. We'll see," Augustine told reporters.
The Air Force early this year recommended retiring the 20 combat jets at the local base and replacing them with half as many propeller planes used for surveillance and gathering intelligence, a move that would have eliminated 152 jobs.
Those plans were scrapped when Congress rejected a nationwide realignment of air bases and voted to freeze personnel and aircraft assignments through fiscal year 2013, which began Oct. 1.
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