Kelly Field—the two-mile-plus runway Port San Antonio shares with the Air Force—has a long and storied past—from its beginnings as a training ground for World War I fighter pilots to its legacy as an aircraft maintenance depot from World War II until today.
Now, six new F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft are planning to relocate to Kelly Field, with the possibility of even more training missions arriving in the future.
While the civilian aspect of Kelly has hosted some of the biggest names in aerospace over the past two decades, the military component of Kelly Field endures. Today, it is home of the Texas Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing and the Air Force Reserve’s 433rd Airlift Wing. Both include pilot training missions and fulfill essential roles in supporting defense missions.
The 149th Fighter Wing supports 18 permanently assigned aircraft, with the six additional incoming F-16 fighters, arriving in late 2017 to make use of South Texas’ largest runway.
The 149th’s mission at Kelly Field is to train F-16 Fighter Pilots for combat operations. The six additional aircraft will allow the unit to increase F-16 pilot production by nearly 20 percent.
Additionally, the incoming F-16s will add approximately 150 new jobs over the course of eighteen months.
The Air Force is also currently evaluating locations throughout the country to place even more aircraft training missions. Given its history as a premier fighter pilot training facility, Kelly Field is in the running to land an additional forty F-16 fighters in San Antonio.
This news comes on the heels of Port San Antonio’s recent announcement of its plans to grow activity at Kelly Field. Earlier this summer, the Port partnered with the City of San Antonio to transform nearly 200 acres next to the airfield into shovel-ready sites for new large hangars, workshops and future jobs.