Vermont Air National Guard chosen as first Guard unit in nation to get F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
Senator Patrick Leahy and the Vermont Congressional Delegation – Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I) and Representative Peter Welch (D) -- announced Thursday that the Secretary of the Air Force has selected the Vermont National Guard to be the first Air Guard unit to base the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Air Force announced that Burlington is one of two preferred choices for F-35 operations, along with Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah, and that Luke Air Force Base in Arizona is the top pick for training. Final basing decisions will be made later in the ongoing selection process. Under the current production schedule, the planes could begin arriving in Vermont in the 2018 federal fiscal year.
Last year the Air Force conducted a system-wide review of more than 200 locations before selecting Burlington and nine other bases as finalists for either the training or primary operations of the F-35. Today (Thursday), the Secretary of the Air Force further refined that list by announcing the bases that are expected to be the first to receive the Joint Strike Fighter.
Leahy said, “Just as cream rises to the top, the Vermont Air National Guard’s stellar tradition of quality and performance has carried Vermont to the top of this rarefied list. The Air Force’s rigorous review of personnel and facilities across the country has confirmed the Vermont Guard’s superb performance and capabilities.” Leahy chairs the Senate National Guard Caucus and is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He has also asked the Air Force to provide him with information about the noise profile for the developmental F-35 engine and how the Air Force will work to minimize any potential increased engine noise during take off and landing.
Sanders said, “It is a sign of the great national respect and admiration for the Vermont National Guard that it was selected by the Air Force in a very competitive process.”
Welch said, “Today’s announcement speaks to the Vermont Air National Guard’s outstanding reputation and tradition of excellence. I hope that, as the process moves forward, all parties will work together in a collaborative manner to resolve outstanding concerns.”
Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie, who chairs the Vermont Aerospace and Aviation Association and the Washington-based Aerospace States Association, said, “This did not happen by chance. Many Vermonters worked together with unity and resolve to make this victory possible.
“I commend the men and women of the Vermont Air National Guard whose high standards of excellence and performance have put our base at the top of the list time and again," Dubie said. "I thank Senator Patrick Leahy for his leadership on the Senate National Guard Caucus, along with Senator Bernie Sanders, and Congressman Peter Welch for putting their support behind the F-35 program and basing it here in Vermont. I thank the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and the Vermont Aerospace and Aviation Association for their unflagging support. The jobs and positive economic impact are a great boost, and the new growth potential for our state’s aerospace and aviation sectors will be felt from Bennington to St Albans.”
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the next generation multi-purpose joint service aircraft that the Defense Department is testing for procurement for the Air Force, Navy and Marines. The Air Force version of the F-35 will serve multiple roles and will be the primary replacement for the F-16s and A-10s.
Burlington and the other locations selected to base the F-35 will now move forward with a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This review will examine the environmental impact of the basing plan including the noise profile of the engine and site surveys, and it will include additional public meetings. The results of the EIS reviews could impact the final Air Force basing decision in the future.
Source: Leahy. WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, July 29, 2010) --
Following is the press release from the US Air Force:
Air Force announces preferred basing alternatives for F-35
WASHINGTON – Today the Air Force announced the preferred alternatives for operational and training F-35 Joint Strike Fighter bases.
Teams surveyed each candidate base for feasibility, timing, cost and planning purposes to meet initial operational capability timelines.
The preferred alternative locations are:
- Operations – Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and Burlington Air Guard Station, Vt.
- Training – Luke AFB, Ariz.
“This is not a final basing decision,” said Ms. Kathleen Ferguson, deputy assistant secretary for installations. “The preferred alternatives with other reasonable alternatives will continue to be evaluated in the Environmental Impact Analysis Process.”
A preferred alternative is an alternative which the Air Force believes best fulfills its mission and responsibilities, taking into consideration environmental, operational, technical and other factors.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley previously announced five operations candidate bases Oct. 29, 2009. They included Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; Shaw AFB/McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C.; Burlington Air Guard Station, Vt.; and Jacksonville AGS, Fla.
The secretary announced training base candidates Oct. 29, 2009. They included Boise AGS, Idaho; Eglin AFB, Fla.; Holloman AFB, N.M.; Luke AFB, Ariz.; and Tucson AGS, Ariz.
The current scope of this basing action includes 250 to 300 F-35 aircraft.
The JSF is the next generation strike fighter bringing cutting-edge technologies to the battle space of the future. In the Air Force, the F-35 will primarily service an air-to-ground role, replace aging F-16 and A-10 aircraft while complementing the F-22. The Navy and Marine Corps plan on using the F-35, along with international partners.
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