USAF Limits Eglin to 59 F-35s

Air Force officials announced Wednesday that, for the time being, USAF will seek to base no more than 59 F-35 strike fighters at Eglin AFB, Fla. Up to 107 had been considered for the training schoolhouse being established there. Further, Eglin’s main base is the preferred location for operating the F-35s, but nearby Duke and Choctaw Auxiliary Fields will be used for half of all F-35 flights, officials said. Both decisions emerged from the service’s supplemental environmental impact study, due out in draft form in September. The Air Force agreed to conduct the supplemental EIS after residents around Eglin raised concerns in 2009 about the noise levels the F-35s would generate. Kathleen Ferguson, USAF’s lead for installation issues, said these moves will minimize F-35 operations at Eglin, “to the maximum extent practicable, to reduce noise impacts on the surrounding communities.”