Air Force officials announced Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, as the preferred location for the first Air Force Reserve-led F-35 base, which is expected to begin receiving its first F-35As in the mid-2020s.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.; Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla.; and Whiteman AFB, Mo., will be considered as reasonable alternatives during the environmental analysis process which must be completed before the Air Force makes a final basing decision.
“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,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. “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.”
According to the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein, the F-35 is even better than advertised.
“In the hands of our Airmen, the F-35 will be the most lethal, survivable and adaptable aircraft in our inventory for decades to come,” Goldfein said. “No matter how you slice it, the F-35’s stealth characteristics, maneuverability, interoperability and its ability to make other aircraft better through sensor fusion make it unmatched by any adversary.”
In December 2016, the Air Force released the candidate bases for the next two Air National Guard-led F-35 bases. The candidate bases included Dannelly Field Air Guard Station, Ala.; Gowen Field AGS, Idaho; Jacksonville AGS, Fla.; Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich.; and Truax AGS, Wisc.
The Air Force will be conducting on-the-ground site surveys at each candidate location assessing each location against operational requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, infrastructure and manpower, and then develop cost estimates to bed down the F-35A.
The preferred and reasonable alternatives for the ANG bases are expected to be selected in the summer of 2017.
The F-35As are expected to begin arriving at the second and third ANG locations in the early to mid-2020s.
Currently, three active-duty operational locations—Hill AFB, Utah; Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom; and Eielson AFB, Alaska— and one ANG location – Burlington AGS, Vt. – have been identified for F-35A basing.