Air Force officials announce candidate bases for joint strike fighter

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Air Force officials here announced the list of candidate locations Oct. 29 for basing the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter.

The list of candidate bases was approved by the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force and identifies the first group of bases to be considered for joint strike fighter basing decisions. The selection of these bases signifies the determination of Air Force officials that these locations have the greatest potential to accommodate the F-35 training or operational mission.

Eleven bases have been selected as candidate bases and include for training: Boise Air Terminal Air Guard Station, Idaho; Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; Holloman AFB N.M.; Luke AFB, Ariz.; and Tucson International Airport Air Guard Station, Ariz. The six bases selected as candidate bases for operations are: Burlington International Airport Guard Station, Vt.; Hill AFB, Utah; Jacksonville International Airport Air Guard Station, Fla.; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; Shaw AFB, S.C.; and McEntire Air Guard Base, S.C.

Air Force officials will evaluate existing F-22 Raptor force structure at Holloman AFB as it considers F-35 basing.

"The selection of this candidate list is the result of a deliberate, repeatable, standardized and transparent process," said Kathleen Ferguson, Air Force deputy assistant secretary for installations. "We are excited about the future of the joint strike fighter and look forward to working with each of the communities surrounding these bases to ensure all of their concerns are addressed."

The list of candidate bases were selected using previously announced basing criteria such as airspace, flight training ranges, weather, support facilities, runways, taxi ramps and environmental concerns, and military judgment factors such as combatant commander requirements, aircraft retirements and delivery schedules, aircraft maintenance and logistics support and integration with the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.

Now that the list of candidate bases has been released, the formal environmental impact analysis process and site assessments will begin, allowing communities around each candidate base to participate and provide input into the environmental impact analysis. Based on the results of these efforts, officials expect to announce the JSF preferred locations in late spring of 2010. Once the formal environmental impact statements are complete, Air Force officials will issue the Records of Decision and announce the final basing decisions. This is anticipated in early 2011.