Air Force Selects Next Two Guard F-35 Bases

Washington Report

(December 28, 2017) Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin, and Dannelly Field in Alabama, are the Air Force’s two “preferred locations” to be the Air Guard’s second and third F-35A bases. 

Burlington Air Guard Station in Vermont was the first Air Guard site chosen to receive the fighter.

“Selecting Truax Field and Dannelly Field will increase Air National Guard F-35A units providing fifth-generation airpower around the world,” said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson in a statement last week. “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.”

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F-35As will eventually replace many of the fourth-generation aircraft. However, the Air Force  will continue to fly a mix of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters into the 2040s to meet combatant-commander requirements, provide required training and allow a reasonable deployment tempo for the force, she said.

The Air Force expects F-35As to begin arriving at Truax Field, the home of the 115th Fighter Wing, in early 2023, and at Dannelly Field, the home of the 187th Fighter Wing, later that year. These locations will remain preferred alternatives until the secretary makes the final basing decisions after the requisite environmental analysis is complete.

Governors and congressional delegations in both states lauded the decisions, touting the economic impact of the additional military positions and construction the F-35s will bring to their states. 

The Air Force also evaluated three other Air Guard bases: Gowen Field ANGB, Idaho, Selfridge ANGB, Michigan, and Jacksonville Air Guard Station, Florida. Those locations were “reasonable alternatives,” but not preferred.

Previously, the service selected three active-component operational locations and the Air Guard base in Vermont. The active-component locations are Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, and Eielson AFB, Alaska.

The Air Guard’s first F-35As are expected to arrive in Burlington, home of the 158th Fighter Wing, in late 2019. 

In addition, the Air Force announced Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, as the preferred alternative for the first Air Force Reserve base.