Pentagon F-35 review unlikely to affect Vermont

By Adam Silverman
Feb. 5, 2017

A review ordered by the Trump administration of the F-35 fighter jet program is expected to have no effect on the Vermont National Guard, which remains on track to receive 18 of the aircraft in two years.

Vermont’s congressional delegation and governor agreed cost-cutting measures could prove beneficial for the Pentagon’s costliest weapons procurement program. But the political leaders added that new planes remain vital to the 158th Fighter Wing’s mission.

“The Pentagon has a long record of purchasing weapons systems from defense contractors with massive cost overruns that have wasted hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. The F-35 is a clear example of that practice, and that corporate welfare must end,” independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said in response to questions from the Burlington Free Press.


FAA made maps for some cities, just not South Burlington

By Nicole Higgins DeSmet
Feb. 6, 2017

Federal Aviation Administration officials have repeatedly brushed off requests to provide maps of the F-35’s projected noise impact on surrounding neighborhoods, but the Burlington Free Press confirmed other communities were provided with F-35 data.

Scott Eaton, an FAA community planner in Helena, Montana, confirmed last month that F-35 projections were included in the appendices of plans for the purchase of homes near a civilian airport in Great Falls, Montana, that, like South Burlington, serves as a base for the U.S. Air Force. Another FAA official verbally confirmed that F-35 data was provided for Boise, Idaho. A Winooski resident and anti-F-35 activist flagged these airports at a Jan. 23 South Burlington City Council meeting.

All officials noted the F-35 sound maps for the Great Falls and Boise were informational additions and had no relation to FAA sound program funding.


Mattis defends Trump’s F-35 criticism

By Valerie Insinna
Jan. 12, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the next defense secretary on Thursday characterized his boss as ultimately supportive of the F-35 program, despite recent comments by Trump criticizing the high costs of the program.

Over the past month, Trump has repeatedly used Twitter as his platform of choice to trash the “out-of-control” costs of the F-35. The president-elect has also put the Air Force One program in his crosshairs, tweeting that the program should be canceled.

During a confirmation hearing in front of the Senate armed services committee, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis said Trump has “in no way shown a lack of support for the program. He just wants more bang for the buck.”


120th Airlift Wing prepares to deploy

By Jenn Rowell
Oct. 2, 2016

After a two-year conversion period, the 120th Airlift Wing is now fully operational.

For the last two years, the unit switched from flying F-15 fighter jets to the C-130 cargo planes that required training and new facilities, created new positions and eliminated others.

During the conversion, the wing could volunteer for deployments and missions, but couldn’t be tasked from higher headquarters to go.


Holloman gets new F-16 mission

By Kent Miller
November 17, 2016

To combat the ongoing shortage of fighter pilots, the Air Force will stand up two interim F-16 pilot training squadrons at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, service officials announced Thursday.

About 40 to 45 Fighting Falcons, plus 800 training and support staff airmen, are being relocated from Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

Because the service cannot permanently base formal training units without first conducting an environmental impact analysis, cost-benefit analysis and other site surveys, service officials announced their plan for an interim solution in August. A final decision will be made in the spring or summer of 2017.


F-16 training accident at Holloman AFB kills 1 and injures 1

By Stephen Losey
February 1, 2017

A civilian contractor was killed and an airman was injured in a training accident at a military range near Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico Tuesday.

Capt. Bryant Davis, chief of public affairs for the 49th Wing at Holloman, said the two were part of a ground control party that was helping coordinate a live-fire training exercise at the Red Rio range, which is in the White Sands Missile Range complex. Davis said officials expect to release more information on the airman and contractor later on Wednesday.



More bases named to host F-35, K-46 and MQ-9 operations

January 12, 2017

The service chose Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, for the first Air Force Reserve-led F-35 base. Three other bases were named as possible alternates if a problem arises during the environmental impact process: Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona; Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida; and Whiteman AFB, Missouri. That environmental analysis must be completed before service officials formally announce a final decision.


South Burlington earns grant for airport planning

By John Herrick
Dec. 9, 2013

Nearly a week after the decision was made to base the F-35 fighter jet in Vermont, communities neighboring Burlington International Airport received a state grant to begin planning noise mitigation strategies for residential areas around the airport.

With the Federal Aviation Administration’s home buyback program off the table, dozens of vacant homes awaiting demolition and the expected arrival of the louder F-35 fighter jet in 2020, regional planners must begin working on how to mitigate further burden to the affordable housing neighborhood around the airport.

During a news conference at the Chamberlin School in South Burlington on Monday, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said the F-35 basing decision has sparked a long-needed debate on the city-owned airport’s encroachment on the nearby South Burlington neighborhood.


South Burlington neighborhood unfit for residents

By Nicole Higgins DeSmet
Feb. 22, 2017


The Federal Aviation Administration’s message was clear on Thursday: Properties in the noisiest area around the airport should be bought and rezoned for commercial use.

“We have encouraged the airport to buy every home they can,” FAA Environmental Program Manager Richard Doucette said at the Burlington International Airport community meeting where about 150 residents gathered. He cited levels of noise that were incompatible with healthy living.


Burlington mayor favors F-35

By Greg Guma
May. 22, 2012

Turnout has been high and dialogue heated at a series of public meetings held lately in Burlington and environs.

On Monday, dozens of people both in favor and opposed to a proposed health access buffer zone at Burlington reproductive health care centers brought their arguments and deeply held beliefs to the City Council. Meanwhile, 40 Vermonters showed up just to watch the South Burlington City Council, in a 4-1 vote, reject a plan to base F-35 fighter jets at the airport.

Last week more than 300 people turned out in South Burlington for a U.S. Air Force public hearing on the environmental impacts of the multi-purpose aircraft, the military’s most expensive pet project yet.


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