Air Force jets get assigned temporarily to Gowen Field

Up to 54 Strike Eagle fighter jets will conduct flight training missions while based at Gowen Field in August.

The jets are being moved to the Boise airfield while the runway at Mountain Home Air Force Base undergoes resurfacing. The jets are expected to be in place and begin taking off and landing at Gowen Field beginning early next week.

About 800 Mountain Home pilots from three squadrons from the 366th Fighter Wing and support personnel will commute each day from Elmore County for training flights.

Air Force and Air Guard officials say the fighter jets will create more noise than the A-10 Thunderbolt IIs used by the Air Guard at Gowen Field. The after-burning turbofan engine on the Boeing jet is responsible for added thrust and noise.

“We understand that engine is loud, louder than the A-10. We are taking those operations seriously to mitigate the risks, because we appreciate the relationship we have with the community,” said Air Force Col. Jeff O’Donnell, vice wing commander.

Flight operations will be limited to daylight hours to reduce the impact to neighbors who live near Gowen Field and the Boise Airport. Pilots have been asked to climb to 5,000 feet and make turns to the training grounds south of Boise as quickly as possible to minimize the noise heard by neighbors.

The Air Force has also set up a telephone hotline — 208-422-5653 — for people with questions, comments or complaints.

The Air Force crews will use facilities that have been idle since the National Guard’s C-130 mission ended in 2008.

Since 2002, Gowen Field has hosted three other military units bumped from their home bases because of runway maintenance. Without the availability of Gowen, the Air Force would have sent its squadrons to bases in Nevada and Arizona, O’Donnell said.

“We’re glad to have them here in our world-class facilities,” said Col. Tim Donnellan of the Idaho Air National Guard.