Air Force Names Next Guard Bases to Receive F-35As

Air National Guard units in Wisconsin and Alabama have been chosen to receive the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the next few years.

The Air Force announced Thursday that Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Madison, Wisconsin, and Dannelly Field in Montgomery, Alabama, have been named as the preferred locations for the next two Air National Guard F-35A bases.

"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," Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a release.

"Putting F-35s at these two Air National Guard bases continues our transition into the next generation of air superiority," added Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

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Even though fourth-generation fighters such as the F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Fighting Falcon aren't going away anytime soon, the service anticipates the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 will become its dominant aircraft, the release said. The Air Force plans to buy 1,763 F-35s overall.

"Selecting Truax Field and Dannelly Field will increase Air National Guard F-35A units providing fifth-generation airpower around the world," Wilson said.

Dannelly Field -- home to the 187th Fighter Wing, the legacy unit for the Tuskegee Airmen "Red Tails" -- is expected to receive 18 aircraft, according to a statement from Rep. Martha Roby, a Republican representing Alabama's 2nd Congressional District.

"Landing this mission is a tremendous boost for the River Region community and the entire state. It could bring as many as 1,000 jobs, $70 million in upfront facility upgrades, and as much as $3 billion in capital investment in Montgomery," she said in a statement.

Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said placing the F-35 at Truax Field will boost his state's military footprint and increase national security.

"The Air Force agrees that the great men and women of the Wisconsin Air National Guard are uniquely prepared to host the F-35," he said in a statement. Truax Field is home to the 115th Fighter Wing.

Last December, the service was weighing five Air National Guard bases to host the F-35s, including Dannelly Field; Gowen Field Air Guard Station in Boise, Idaho; Jacksonville Air Guard Station in Florida; Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Detroit; and Truax Air Guard Station.

It had previously selected three active-duty operational locations and one Air National Guard location to host F-35As: Hill Air Force Base, Utah; RAF Lakenheath, England; Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; and Burlington Air Guard Station, Vermont.

The Air Force expects the F-35As to begin arriving at Truax Field in early 2023 and at Dannelly Field later that year, service officials said.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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