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Mountain Home AFB announced as candidate base for F-35

by Staff Sgt. Brian Stives
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office

10/29/2009 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Air Force officials announced that Mountain Home Air Force Base has qualified as one of the top six locations under consideration for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter operations.

"Mountain Home Air Force Base is honored to be considered as one of the bases to host a future F-35 mission," said Col. John Bird, 366th Fighter Wing commander. "We have incredible air space, few noise complaints and a proud Gunfighter history dating back to World War II. We feel privileged to be one of the candidate bases selected for operations."

Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch notified the leadership of the 366th FW and 124th Fighter Wing at Gowen Field of their selections Oct. 29. The two locations are not competing against each other as Mountain Home AFB is under consideration for the operation of up to three squadrons of the F-35, while the Boise Air Terminal is being considered for training and support missions through the Idaho Air National Guard.

"Over the past year, I have met with Air Force leaders and personally expressed my support for these missions to the Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz," said Senator Crapo. "This is exciting news, and the first step to securing the future missions for Idaho that will lead to an increased investment in jobs, aircraft and infrastructure in Idaho. I will follow closely the Air Force's consideration as we move ahead in this vetting process."

"Having two sites qualify in the top five reflects the first-rate facilities, training and support our military men and women receive in Idaho," said Senator Risch. "As the public process now begins, I encourage Idahoans to play a supportive role in these important siting decisions."

The Air Force considered 205 bases in this initial selection round on various factors including: airspace, flight training ranges, weather, support facilities, runways, taxi ramps, environmental concerns and cost. Military efficiencies, operational plans and building partnerships were also weighed.

The next step in the base selection process includes a formal environmental analysis, site surveys and public meetings. Senior Air Force officials will then evaluate that and other data before announcing their preferred locations in late spring of 2010 and a record of decision by early 2011.

Initial deployment of the F-35 begins in 2013, with 250 to 300 aircraft projected for delivery by 2017. Sites not selected in the initial deployment will continue to be evaluated as potential homes for the 1,763 total aircraft slated for purchase by 2035.

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