Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) announced that the Secretary of the Air Force has officially selected the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannely Field in Montgomery as the Air National Guard’s 6th operational location for the F-35s.
“After significant work, Montgomery, Alabama is officially going to be home to the F-35s,” Gov. Ivey said. “Our state not only has a rich history in flight, but we have longstanding support of our nation’s military and defense. I am grateful to the secretary of the Air Force for recognizing what Alabama will continue to offer our military efforts. Most importantly, I am appreciative of the hard work our congressional delegation and the many people who have helped make this possible.”
“This morning Air Force Secretary Barrett called to let me know that she would be announcing the final decision to designate the 187th Fighter Wing (187 FW) at Dannelly Field, Montgomery Regional Airport as the 6th F-35 operational location,” U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) said. ”This is great news for the 187 FW’s mission capabilities and for the state as a whole. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter represents the cutting edge of military technology and will enhance the Wing’s opportunities to continue their outstanding record of contributions to our national security. From my position on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will continue to advocate for Congress to allocate the funds for the facilities needed to house and maintain these aircraft in time for their expected arrival in December of 2023.”
“GREAT NEWS: the U.S. Secretary of the Air Force today officially announced the 187th Fighter Wing, Alabama Air National Guard at Dannelly Field has been selected as the Air National Guard’s 6th operational location for the F-35s!” Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) said. “This is exceptional news for the River Region and the state of Alabama. A very special thank you to United States Air Force for your continued investment in our state’s military efforts.”
In addition to the Alabama site, the Secretary of the Air Force announced the selection of the 115th Fighter Wing at Traux Field, Wisconsin. In 2018, the two sites in Alabama and Wisconsin were identified as Preferred Alternatives for the Ops 5 and 6 Basing Action. The secretary’s decision and signing of the Record of Decision (ROD) completes this basing process, making Alabama the official home to the F-35s.
The Air Force Strategic Basing Process selected both installations based on existing F-16 fleet dynamics, the presence of active associations and infrastructure MILCON and requirements, which focus on minimizing operational transition costs and enhancing combat capability and capacity. Endorsement of the ROD is a significant milestone, which allows the Alabama Air National Guard to move forward with training personnel and to move on critical infrastructure projects, both crucial to successful mission beddown.
“We are thrilled that the waiting is over and we have received the final word that we will be the home of the F35, this decision continues the tradition of the Red Tails and Tuskegee Airman,” said Maj. General Gordon. “I want to thank the Chamber of Commerce and County Commissioners for all their efforts and support. It is a great honor to be selected as the home of the most technologically advanced fighter in the Air Force inventory. We look forward to working with the Montgomery Airport Authority, the city of Montgomery and our State officials as we move ahead to prepare our facilities to accommodate the F35.”
As construction begins, concurrent delivery of the F-35A aircraft will likely begin in April 2023 for Ops 5 and December 2023 for Ops 6.
The Lockheed Martin F-35A is a fifth-generation fighter jet that combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three variants of the F-35 will replace legacy fighters for the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps and 10 other countries around the world. According to the Air Force, the F-35A will replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II’s.
The Pentagon estimates that the F-35 will remain in the U.S. inventory through 2077. It is the costliest weapon system in the history of the world, with an estimated total program cost of $1.196 billion over the expected six decades-long life of the program.