Nellis Air Force Base would add a tactical air support squadron with up to 16 F-16s under an Air Force plan to enhance the 57th Operations Group’s ability to provide close air support (CAS) training, officials announced earlier this month.
The tactical air support squadron would initially consist of eight permanent F-16 Fighting Falcons relocated from Hill AFB, Utah, with the potential to expand to a total of 16 aircraft at full operational capability. The service already has begun to evaluate the effect of basing the additional F-16s at Nellis, located in southern Nevada. Final decisions about the new squadron will be made after the environmental impact analysis process is completed.
The tactical air support squadron added to the 57th Operations Group would provide dedicated air support to the joint terminal attack controller qualification course, USAF Weapons School, and Green Flag and Red Flag exercises, capitalizing on the existing CAS expertise and schools currently at Nellis.
An assessment last year of the CAS mission led by Air Combat Command recommended standing up a CAS-dedicated organization to “preserve what has been a highly effective CAS culture and help meet the close air support challenges of tomorrow,” according to an Air Force news release.
“The changes we’re making at Nellis are an important step in refining our CAS skills through future generations of airmen so we can continue to provide ground forces with all the advantages airpower brings to close combat,” said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command.