Burlington, Hill Named First Operational Home for F-35A

Burlington ANGS, Vt., and Hill AFB, Utah, will serve as the first operational homes for the Air Force’s combat-ready F-35 strike fighters, announced USAF officials Tuesday. The decision comes more than three years after the service first announced its preferred initial basing sites for the fifth-generation fighters. Burlington was selected after a lengthy analysis of operational considerations, installation attributes, and economic and environmental factors, according to the Tuesday statement. Timothy Bridges, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, noted that Burlington’s airspace and ranges can support projected F-35A operational training requirements while offering joint training opportunities with F-15Cs from the Massachusetts Air Guard and Canadian CF-18s in Quebec. The Vermont ANG will receive 18 F-35s, which are scheduled to arrive in 2020. The location also has a “mature and highly successful” active associate arrangement with the Air Force for its F-16s, which will transition with the arrival of the F-35. For the Active Duty, Hill’s location near the Utah Test and Training range, provides access to one of the largest and most diverse ranges in the Air Force, Bridges noted. Hill also is home to the F-35 depot. Construction will begin immediately on facilities, and the first of 72 aircraft will arrive at Hill starting in 2015.