F-16 and F-35 Bombers Threaten Cognitive Health of Children in Vermont Town

By James Marc Leas
July 19, 2017

A crisis plagues 976 families in a working-class neighborhood of South Burlington, Vermont. Eighteen screamingly loud F-16 fighter bombers based at Vermont’s main airport are the cause. Worse, the number of families in crisis from this jet noise is set to sharply increase in two years when the Air Force says it will replace the F-16s with four-times-louder F-35 fighter bombers.

The neighboring city of Burlington owns and runs the Burlington International Airport, even though that airport is fully located within South Burlington. The city council of South Burlington has so far restricted itself to adopting a series of polite resolutions regarding the health and safety of the 976 families living in tiny affordable homes in the screeching noise zone of F-16 fighter jets. But these resolutions were all dismissed by Vermont’s political elite who instead successfully lobbied the Air Force to bring on the F-35.

Nor did Vermont Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders come to the aid of the largely working-class residents living in the airport neighborhood of South Burlington. Both senators refused even to meet with residents, declaring jet-fighter basing a matter of patriotism or jobs.


With F-35 decision looming, Boise Airport gets federal money to monitor noise


By Sven Berg
June 19, 2017

The Federal Aviation Administration will cover 93.75 percent of the $300,000 cost to design, acquire and install a noise-monitoring system at the Boise Airport.

The airport, which the city of Boise owns, will cover the remaining $18,750.

The monitoring system will allow the airport to compare the amount of noise planes produce when they take off and land on its runways to models that predict the impact and reach of that noise.

Some of the noise at the airport comes from military planes, including a squadron of 18 active A-10s that the Idaho Air National Guard operates. The U.S. Air Force plans to decommission all A-10s in the next five years or so, leaving the question of what aircraft, if any, will replace the A-10s at Gowen Field, the Guard’s base


Boise officials heard the F-35 up close

By Sven Berg
August 20, 2017

On Aug. 7, Elaine Clegg stood at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, and listened to the roar of F-35s taking off and landing a couple hundred yards away.

Clegg, president of the Boise City Council, also witnessed F-16s and other planes at the base. She said she couldn’t tell that much difference between the various aircraft.

“They’re jets,” she said Wednesday. “They’re loud.”

Amid a yearslong, sometimes ugly debate over basing F-35s in Boise, the Utah trip was a rare opportunity for city officials to hear in person just how loud the jets are.

Lauren McLean, Clegg’s second-in-command on the council, was at Hill, too. Her impression of the F-35s aligned with Clegg’s.

Clegg and McLean said the F-35s in Utah were using afterburners — acceleration devices that substantially increase aircraft noise.


F-35 in Boise: We don’t know what we don’t know

By George Prentice
July 19, 2017

The city of Boise and a grassroots neighborhood group are in a dogfight over proposed mission

Listen to enough people argue about the possibility of an F-35 mission coming to Gowen Field in Boise and you’ll soon realize the only common ground you hear is an agreement that only a fully vetted, Boise-based scientific analysis will reveal how the mission might impact the livability of the community. The divide of opinions over the proposed mission is already as wide as the runway at Gowen Field is long. As an example, comments on an informal online poll by Boise Weekly were strident. “Don’t like the noise? Don’t live near the base,” wrote Mark Dewey. “It’s the sound of freedom, baby,” wrote Todd Woodell.

State of Idaho and City of Boise officials—from Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and Mayor Dave Bieter on down—have voiced full-throated support for keeping the Idaho Air National Guard airborne above Gowen Field. Both Otter and Bieter winged their way to Washington, D.C., this past March to lobby on behalf of Boise, one of five cities on the U.S. Air Force’s shortlist, each vying to be the home base for somewhere between 18 and 24 F-35 jets.

A number of citizens, primarily from the Vista neighborhood in Boise, are doing some lobbying of their own. They’ve created a group called “Citizens for a Livable Boise,” punching holes in the effort to lure the F-35 mission.

“It’s a terrible thing. We’ll never get used to it, and if it comes here it would tear this community apart,” said Monty Mericle, retired Idaho Power engineer and CLB member.


Pilot training program at Davis-Monthan to lose funding, records show

By David Wichner
June 20, 2017

The National Guard Bureau plans to discontinue its “Operation Snowbird” visitor pilot training program, according to documents filed this week in a federal lawsuit aimed at stopping expansion of that program and other training at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

A May 23 memorandum from the chief of airspace and ranges for the Air Guard states that the bureau will pull funding for Operation Snowbird operations support squadrons at D-M at the end of the 2017 fiscal year, according to a stipulation cited in the suit that’s signed by the Air Force and residents who filed the lawsuit to stop the training expansion.

“Due to reductions in Air National Guard participation in the OSB program, the return of investment of continuing (Operation Snowbird) has fallen below a reasonable threshold,” Col. Brian K. Lehew wrote.

The memo said the decision, made “as part of an overall reassessment of Air National Guard training requirements,” will end support for Operation Snowbird facilities at D-M, possibly impacting other D-M training that used logistical support from the Snowbird office.


F-16 crashes with ammunition on board

By Stefan Becket
June 21, 2017

An F-16 fighter jet crashed during takeoff from an airbase in Houston on Wednesday, prompting the evacuation of a one-mile area around the scene of the crash.

The aircraft from the 138th Fighter Wing at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base was embarking on a training mission for NORAD when it crashed around 10:30 a.m. local time, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. The F-16 was carrying ammunition when it went down.

The pilot ejected safely and is being treated, an official said.

The airport was immediately evacuated as emergency workers responded to the scene, CBS affiliate KHOU-TV reports. The one-mile evacuation area was established as a precaution due to the ammunition on board the F-16.

“The Houston Fire Department is responding to a military jet which has caught fire on the north side of Ellington Field in southeast Houston,” Houston’s Office of Emergency Management said in a statement. “Personnel from Ellington Field are being evacuated, and residents in the area can expect to see increased traffic and emergency vehicles.”


Nation “Too Broke” for Universal Healthcare to Spend $406 Billion More on F-35

By Jon Queally
July 10, 2017

There is always another $27 billion lying around, it seems, when Lockheed Martin needs more money for expensive weapons system

The nation’s most expensive weapons program isn’t done showing U.S. taxpayers how much it will ultimately cost them, with Bloomberg reporting Monday that the F-35 fighter jet budget is now predicted to jump by a cool $27 billion.

“Think about [F-35’s] $405 billion price tag when a family member dies of a preventable disease. Get angry.”

Though the estimated future cost of the program had previously hovered at a mind-boggling $379 billion, an updated draft that could be submitted to Congress as early as today will reportedly exceed $406 billion—a nearly 7 percent increase.

The new cost increases may come as a hit to President Donald Trump, who has bragged about his ability to get weapons manufacturers to offer the Pentagon “better deals.”


F-35 flight suspension at Luke AFB ends; cause of hypoxia not found

By Perry Vandell
June 19, 2017

F-35s at Luke Air Force Base will scream across the sky again on Wednesday.

Officials at the Glendale base announced Monday that they will lift the flight suspension that grounded its 55 F-35s since June 9 after five pilots complained of hypoxia-like symptoms over a five-week span. Symptoms ranged from dizziness to tingling in their extremities.

The 11-day suspension was initially expected to last one day, but Luke Commander Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard extended it to give investigators more time.

Investigators have not found the specific cause of the problems, but they have narrowed down the possible causes.


Another pilot in Arizona experienced lightheadedness and breathing difficulties this week, Arizona Central reported Thursday.

July 14, 2017

Another pilot in Arizona experienced lightheadedness and breathing difficulties this week, Arizona Central reported Thursday.

The event took place on Monday, a spokesman told AZ Central, which is owned by USA Today. Last month, several squadrons of F-35 jets at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona, were grounded following multiple episodes of hypoxia in the month of May. The oxygen flow regulators weren’t fixed, investigators didn’t know why they had malfunctioned, but the military decided to continue flying the jets anyway while safety risks loomed.

Experts were tapped to help figure out what was going on but the service has next to no idea why hypoxia is still occurring among pilots in the $1.5 trillion jet program. “No specific root cause for the physiological episodes was identified during recent visits from experts and engineers from the Joint Program Office, Lockheed Martin, the Air Force Research Laboratory,” the US Air Force 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office said in June.


Navy presents new F-35 helmet display videos and flight test dangers

By Tyler Rogoway
July 10, 2017

Seminar by F-35 testers details tense nighttime carrier vertical landing that almost went wrong and the breaking off of a F-35B’s refueling probe tip during tanker trials.

A video from Flight Test Safety Committee’s conference early last May offers a fascinating insight into the F-35 test program. A talk put on by NAVAIR and presented by the F-35 Government Flight Test Director, Lt. Col. D. Tom Fields, goes into detail about a couple of challenges the program has faced over the last 12 months, and it’s is presented in a totally frank and unafraid manner. The open tone of the address is downright refreshing considering the usual one-sided spin we get from the F-35 Program Office and its corporate partners.


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