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News > Hill AFB a 'preferred alternative' for F-35
Hill AFB a 'preferred alternative' for F-35

Posted 8/5/2010   Updated 1/13/2011 Email story   Print story


by Richard Essary
75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

8/5/2010 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Lighting flashed across northern Utah last week when the Air Force announced it selected Hill Air Force Base as a "preferred alternative" for operational basing of the F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter.

If selected, the 388th Fighter Wing and 419th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB could expect to be the first operational units in the Air Force to fly the fighter as early as 2013.

"We are honored to have been selected as one of the preferred sites for initial operational basing of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter," said Col. Scott Zobrist, 388th Fighter Wing commander. "The fact that Hill Air Force Base was included on the initial basing candidate list is a testament to the important role it and all of Utah plays in our nation's defense."

If Hill AFB is chosen to house the F-35, it will be at least the second time in history the base has been selected as a first to receive the newest weapon system in the Air Force arsenal.

"It's somewhat fitting that Hill AFB be selected as one of the first candidates to get the    F-35, because it was also the first Air Force base to receive the F-16 Fighting Falcon in 1979," Zobrist said.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley previously announced five operational candidate bases Oct. 29, 2009.

In addition to Hill AFB those bases included Mountain Home AFB, Id.; Shaw Air Force Base/McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C.; Burlington Air Guard Station, Vt.; and Jacksonville AGS, Fla.

The secretary also announced training base candidates that included Boise AGS, Id.; Eglin AFB, Fla.; Holloman AFB, N.M.; Luke AFB, Ariz.; and Tucson AGS, Ariz.

The other preferred alternative locations announced on July 29 were: Operations - Burlington Air Guard Station, Vt. and Training - Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

According to Air Force officials, a preferred alternative is an alternative that the Air Force believes best fulfills its mission and responsibilities, taking into consideration environmental, operational, technical and other factors.

To come up with the list of preferred locations, Air Force teams surveyed each candidate base for feasibility, timing, cost and planning purposes to meet initial operational capability timelines.

"From my personal perspective there are several factors that make Hill a strong candidate to receive the F-35 including access to the Utah Test and Training Range; Hill's robust base infrastructure; its support team made up of dedicated Airmen and civilians; and the tremendous support the installation receives from of our congressional delegation and our surrounding communities," Zobrist said.

Even though Hill AFB has made it to the next stage, it's not a done deal yet.

"This is not a final basing decision," said Kathleen Ferguson, the Air Force's deputy assistant secretary for installations. "The preferred alternatives with other reasonable alternatives will continue to be evaluated in the environmental impact analysis process."

The Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, is projected to be finished in early 2011.

The joint strike fighter will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battle space of the future.

In the Air Force, the F-35 will primarily serve an air-to-ground role, replacing the aging the F-16 and A-10 aircraft while complementing the F-22.

The Navy and Marine Corps also plan on using the F-35, along with international partners.

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