By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Sunday, July 23, 2017, US Representative Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) hosted Defense Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas) in Montgomery for a tour of area military installations. The two powerful Republican Congresswomen toured Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base and the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field, where Roby was eager “show off” the storied Alabama Air National Guard unit as it competes to land the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter mission.
Chairwoman Granger told local reporters “With the F-35 competition, you have great standing. You have everything they are looking for.” Granger added that support from the community and Congressional leaders is key.
Congresswoman Roby, who has been leading efforts to bring the F-35 mission to Montgomery, said she is “very confident we meet the objective criteria for the F-35.”
Rep. Roby wrote in an email to constituents, “Yesterday I had the privilege of showing House Defense Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas) the impressive work going on at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base and the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field.”
Rep. Roby continued, “I frequently brag on the amazing military installations we have in Alabama, including Fort Rucker in the Wiregrass and Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery. Of course I have been constantly talking up the great work of the 187th Fighter Wing as we have pursued this unique opportunity with the F-35. The best way to communicate the work being done isn’t to tell, but to show. I was honored to host Chairwoman Granger for a first-hand look at the 187th Fighter Wing and Maxwell Air Force Base. I greatly appreciate her willingness to come and spend time in Montgomery.”
The 187th Fighter Wing is currently flying F-16 Fighting Falcons. The first F-16 flew in December 1973.
President-elect Trump tweeted on Monday, December 12 “The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.”
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II remains a highly controversial and expensive. The new generation of fighter combines the functions of several current aircraft types into one airframe. Variants of the F-35 are to be widely deployed by the .
Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy, as well as by key allied partners. The F-35 is a single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighter. The F-35’s top speed is reportedly 1,199 mph, its projected range is 1,379 miles, its wing span is 35 feet, and the length is 51 feet. The plane is powered by the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine.
Critics of the F-35 program (which would be the costliest weapons procurement system in history) argue that the plane is unnecessary, excessively costly, and has proven difficult to keep operational. Critics that the program could be cut short and existing F16s, F/A-18s, and A-10s could be replaced by new planes for a fraction of the next generation strike fighter. Even President Trump (R) has questioned the utility, cost, and performance of the aircraft at times.
Congresswoman Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.