The United States Air Force has announced that the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing has been selected as one of five candidate bases for further evaluation to receive the Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II.
“Earlier this year the Air Force announced that there were going to be 18 bases considered for the F-35,” said Major Kristin Boustany, public affairs officer at Truax Field, where the 115th currently operates the F-16 Fighting Falcon. “With today’s announcement that list has been narrowed down to 5 candidates with Truax Air National Guard Base being one of them.”
“Truax Field in Madison and Volk Combat Readiness Training Center in Camp Douglas possess premier tactical training capabilities necessary for our nation’s most advanced fighter jets to maintain mission readiness to serve the American people,” Wisconsin’s Adjutant General Major General Donald Dunbar said. “We look forward to working with the Air Force as they move forward to make their final decision.”
The Air Force will conduct further assessments of the candidate bases to select the next two Air National Guard F-35A locations which will serve as hosts for an F-35A operational mission. “The preferred and reasonable alternatives are excpected to be selected in Spring of 2017,” Boustany said.
The 115th has operated from Truax Field continuously since 1972.
The F-35 program is the most expensive weapons system ever developed and it has been subject to criticism over its design and cost — which is currently at around $85 million per aircraft. In addition to the U.S. Air Force, the F-35 is scheduled for adoption by the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. and British navies.