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Air Force announces possible locations for foreign military F-35 training site

An F-35A Lightning II fighter jet from the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, takes off for Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, April 27, 2020.

TODD CROMAR/U.S. AIR FORCE

By HOWARD GRENINGER | The Tribune-Star | Published: July 25, 2020

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (Tribune News Service) — The Air Force announced five sites being considered as a location for an F-35 Foreign Military Sales Training Center, according to military officials.

The center is used to train international pilots on the F-35, a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet.

"The Air Force plans to establish an F-35 Foreign Military Sales Training Center in the continental United States which could accommodate up to 36 F-35 aircraft," said Ann M. Stefanek of the Air Force secretary's office of public affairs.

"Based on negotiations with our foreign military sales customers as well as airspace and weather considerations, the Air Force is considering five candidate locations," Stefanek said.

Those include Terre Haute Regional Airport's Hulman Field, Ind.; Buckley AFB, Colo.; Fort Smith Airport, Ark.; Hulman Field; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich.

"The Air Force will consider mission, capacity, cost and environmental issues" in its site selection, Stefanek said. "I expect more information to be available late this year, early next year."

Defense News this week reported that Singapore, which is purchasing four F-35B aircraft, expected to be delivered in 2026, with an option for eight more, wants to co-locate its F-16 squardron, currently based at Luke Air Force Base, with its F-35s as a “long-term Foreign Military Sales location.”

Luke AFB, based on the outskirts of Phoenix, Ariz., is nearing its aircraft hosting capacity, the Defense News reports.

The base's resident U.S. Air Force squadrons are set to convert from F-16s to the F-35A, and the base itself will continue to be the training location for F-35 international partner nations, according to Defense News, a website and magazine about the technology, business and politics of defense.

Most of the shortlisted bases host few or no permanent flying units, and none of them are earmarked to operate F-35s, Defense News reports.

The F-35 is developed, produced and supported by an international team of leading aerospace companies, with Lockheed Martin as the prime contractor.

Three variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force; the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy and the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps; and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other allied countries.

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