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Air Force picks Alabama, Wisconsin Air National Guard fields to host F-35As

An Air Force F-35A Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, prepares for take-off at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Nov. 7, 2017.

OMARI BERNARD/U.S. AIR FORCE

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 21, 2017

The futures of Air National Guard bases in Alabama and Wisconsin were bolstered Thursday by news that they’ll be receiving some of America’s most advanced multirole stealth fighters.

Dannelly Field in Montgomery, Ala., and Truax Field in Madison, Wis., have been chosen as “preferred locations” to host F-35A Lightning II squadrons, an Air Force statement said.

“Selecting Truax Field and Dannelly Field will increase Air National Guard F-35A units providing 5th Generation airpower around the world,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in the statement.

If the sites pass an environmental analysis, the F-35As — which lack the short-takeoff, vertical-landing capabilities of the F-35B used by the Marine Corps — should begin arriving at Truax in early 2023 and at Dannelly later that year.

“As F-35As arrive at these locations, we will use the existing aircraft at these fields to replace the aging F-16s at other Air National Guard units,” Wilson added.

The Air Force will continue to fly a mix of fifth- and fourth-generation fighters into the 2040s, the statement said. The purpose is to maintain enough jets to meet combatant commander requirements, provide required training and allow a reasonable deployment tempo for the force.

The service also considered Gowen Field in Idaho; Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan; and Jacksonville Air Guard Station in Florida.

Like with most new platforms, the fighter’s development was plagued with issues, and at one point President Donald Trump indicated he might scrap the program altogether.

In November, Congress approved a $700 billion defense bill that provides money for 90 F-35s.

news@stripes.com

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