AF to release draft impact statement on proposed F‑35 pilot training center

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force will file a draft Envi­ron­men­tal Impact State­ment for the pro­posed estab­lish­ment of an F‑35 Light­ning II pilot train­ing cen­ter with­in the con­ti­nen­tal Unit­ed States Jan 20.

U.S. Air Force graphic/Sylvia Saab
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The cur­rent Air Force and Air Nation­al Guard instal­la­tions under con­sid­er­a­tion are: Boise Air Ter­mi­nal Air­port Air Guard Sta­tion, Ida­ho; Hol­lo­man AFB, N.M.; Luke AFB, Ariz.; and Tuc­son Inter­na­tion­al Air­port Air Guard Sta­tion, Ariz. 

“Can­di­date instal­la­tions were iden­ti­fied through a delib­er­ate process that began with a clear def­i­n­i­tion of train­ing require­ments and pro­gressed through a screen­ing process,” said Kath­leen Fer­gu­son, Deputy Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of the Air Force for Instal­la­tions. “For plan­ning pur­pos­es, the Air Force is ana­lyz­ing the impacts of bas­ing incre­ments of 24 air­craft, from 24 to 144, depend­ing on capac­i­ty at the can­di­date installations.” 

Luke AFB is the Air Force’s pre­ferred alter­na­tive for the pilot train­ing cen­ter. No final deci­sions regard­ing the train­ing center’s loca­tion will be made until after the envi­ron­men­tal impact analy­sis is complete. 

The F‑35A is a fifth-gen­er­a­tion fight­er air­craft designed with stealth, maneu­ver­abil­i­ty and inte­grat­ed avion­ics to assume mul­ti-role mis­sions. The Air Force views the fifth-gen­er­a­tion air­craft inte­gral to the future of strike avi­a­tion and to counter emerg­ing anti-access/area denial threats. 

“Our aging fourth-gen­er­a­tion air­craft lack mod­ern stealth tech­nol­o­gy and inte­grat­ed avion­ics, and will become increas­ing­ly less use­ful against bur­geon­ing adver­sary anti-access and area-denial strate­gies and capa­bil­i­ties such as air defense sys­tems, radars, mis­siles, and air­craft,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Nor­ton Schwartz said. “As such, we remain com­mit­ted to the fifth-gen­er­a­tion F‑35, which rep­re­sents the future of tac­ti­cal avi­a­tion for the Air Force.” 

The Draft envi­ron­men­tal impact state­ment for the F‑35A pilot train­ing cen­ter opens a 45-day pub­lic com­ment peri­od end­ing March 14. The Air Force will con­duct 13 pub­lic hear­ings at loca­tions sur­round­ing the poten­tial­ly impact­ed com­mu­ni­ties to receive oral and writ­ten com­ments on the Draft EIS, Fer­gu­son said. 

“The Air Force is com­mit­ted to plan­ning future activ­i­ties while con­sid­er­ing envi­ron­men­tal and com­mu­ni­ty impacts and min­i­miz­ing them where prac­ti­cal,” she said. “A final deci­sion will be reflect­ed in a Record of Deci­sion expect­ed in the sum­mer of 2012.” 

The Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion and U. S. Marine Corps are coop­er­at­ing agen­cies in the EIS process. 

U.S. Air Force 

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