F-35 Beddown Shortlist?

Apparently the Air Force has placed Eielson AFB, Alaska, on its shortlist of beddown locations for the F-35 stealth fighter, along with Hill AFB, Utah, Moody AFB, Ga., Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and Shaw AFB, S.C. Eglin AFB, Fla., is apparently on the shortlist as the potential schoolhouse for the platform. The Air Force still has not announced this list publicly, but a report Oct. 14 in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner lays it out, based on what we understand to be accurate information. Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Brown, told the Daily Report yesterday that he could not confirm the list. “We cannot get communities’ hopes up until the list becomes final,” he said. Meanwhile Lt. Frank Hartnett, spokesman for Eielson’s 354th Fighter Wing, said, to his knowledge, the information presented in the Daily New-Miner article is correct (except for the minor point that it did not specify Eglin as the potential schoolhouse location). “This is certainly a promising development for the Eielson community,” he told the Daily Report. “But it is important to have realistic expectations,” he said and added, “Being on the list does not guarantee that the F-35 will come to Eielson.” In January, the Air Force issued its future capabilities roadmap which listed these bases as part of the 41 potential homes to the F-35, expected to enter the Air Force’s inventory in the early part of next decade. Once the shortlist is official, the process will proceed to assess the environmental impact of basing the F-35s at these preferred locations. For at least Eglin, there is some concern over the arrival of the F-35s, which some claim will be noisier than the base’s current F-15s. In fact, the city of Valparaiso near Eglin filed suit against the Air Force in federal court earlier this year to obtain documents that might shed light on the noise. This led to a meeting between Air Force and Valparaiso officials earlier this month to discuss the release of information.