Friday, January 13, 2017

Stealth fighter base likely headed to Texas, not Florida

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 10:15 AM

click image PHOTO BY U.S. AIR FORCE SENIOR AIRMAN JULIUS DELOS REYES VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes via Wikimedia Commons

Texas beat out Florida and several other states as the U.S. Air Force announced Thursday that its preferred location for a base of new F-35 stealth fighters will be in Fort Worth.

The F-35As will begin arriving at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth in the mid-2020s, assuming the Texas site clears a required environmental analysis, the Air Force said.

The Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida, the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona and the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri remain "reasonable alternatives" if the Texas base does not pass the environmental review, the Air Force said.

A key to Texas edging out the other sites was the presence near the base of a Lockheed Martin plant, which is manufacturing the new stealth fighters, Air Force officials said. "We selected the Air Force Reserve unit in Fort Worth because it is the location that meets all of the necessary training requirements at the lowest cost," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement. "Additionally, the location will provide mission synergy and access to an experienced workforce for recruiting as a result of its proximity to the F-35 manufacturing plant."

Florida remains in contention for additional F-35 bases. Last month, the Air Force announced that the 125th Fighter Wing at the Jacksonville Air Guard Station is among the bases being considered for two Air National Guard-led F-35 bases.

Other National Guard bases in Alabama, Idaho, Michigan and Wisconsin are also on that list. The Air Force is expected to announce this summer its decision on the "preferred" locations for the two National Guard F-35A bases, as well as alternatives.

Related: Gov. Rick Scott attempts to lure F-35 program to Florida, despite objections from Trump (Dec. 13, 2016)

In December, Gov. Rick Scott tweeted that the Florida Air National Guard 125th Fighter Wing at Jacksonville International Airport would make "a great home" for the jets. Three days later, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted: "The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th."


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