Quantcast
Advertisement

F-35s to train at Arizona flyover event in March

Two F-35C Lightning IIs, and two F/A-18E/F Super Hornets fly over Naval Air Station Fallon's Range Training Complex on Sept. 3, 2015. <br>Darin Russell/U.S. Navy
Two F-35C Lightning IIs, and two F/A-18E/F Super Hornets fly over Naval Air Station Fallon's Range Training Complex on Sept. 3, 2015.

In March, Tucson residents will finally be able to glimpse — and hear — the U.S. military’s newest fighter jet over the Old Pueblo.

Two F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters will fly at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base for a few days in early March during the Heritage Flight, which trains and certifies pilots to fly alongside vintage airplanes, D-M says.

The event is not open to the general public, and most maneuvers are performed over D-M’s airfield, but at times local residents will be able to see and hear the planes coming and going.

Not including a brief, unscheduled flyover by two F-35s about a year ago, the Heritage Flight will mark the first official visit to Tucson by the F-35, which besides its high cost and development problems has sparked criticism because it is much louder than jets currently based at D-M.

Some details, like the exact number of certain participating planes, have to be finalized, but the Heritage Flight event will likely include 15 to 17 planes, new and old, D-M spokesman Capt. Casey Osborne said.

The weekend following the Heritage Flight, March 12-13, D-M will host its Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona open house and air show, which is open to the public. An F-35 will be on ground display at that event.

Besides the F-35, participating aircraft so far include two F-22 Raptors, a twin-engine stealth fighter that participated last year; two F-16 Fighting Falcons; and vintage planes including a P-40 Warhawk, four or five P-51 Mustangs, two or three F-86 Sabres, a P-47 Thunderbolt and a P-38 Lightning.

D-M officials discussed the Heritage Flight and the F-35’s participation last week at a meeting of the Military Community Relations Committee, ahead of a formal Heritage Flight announcement on Monday.

The base is trying to get the word out so residents know what to expect, D-M’s Osborne said. D-M routinely issues news releases informing residents of visiting units.

Two transient F-35s briefly practiced approaches over D-M in February 2015, and the unscheduled event prompted some noise complaints from residents.

The F-35 has been a focal point for some area residents who have complained that some jets are too loud for urban-area use.

Air Force data show that the F-35 at takeoff is about nine decibels louder than the most powerful version of the F-16, which routinely is flown at D-M and is the main aircraft flown by the Arizona Air National Guard 162nd Wing at Tucson International Airport. A 10-decibel increase roughly represents a doubling of perceived sound levels.

Several local residents recently filed a federal lawsuit against the Air Force, alleging that the service failed to follow environmental laws in determining that a major expansion of a training program known as Total Force Training would have no significant impact on surrounding areas. That plan would bring more, and some louder, visiting jets to D-M, though the F-35 wasn’t included since it technically is not yet operational.

Some F-35 critics, as well as some supporters, have suggested that the Air Force fly F-35s over Tucson so residents can hear the noise level for themselves. Sen. John McCain said during a discussion of F-35 basing in 2009 that such overflights over could be helpful.

No flyovers were performed, but Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix was made a major F-35 training base and about 30 F-35s were based there as of December, according a public fact sheet.

———

©2016 The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Ariz.)
Visit The Arizona Daily Star at www.azstarnet.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

Join the conversation and share your voice.

Show Comments

Advertisement
Stripes.com Editors' Picks
Advertisement

 

Advertisement