Air Force officially chooses Truax Field as home for F-35 jets

Air Force extends public comment period for F-35 statement
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MADISON, Wis. — A months-long debate about whether or not the U.S. Air Force should house it’s F-35 jets at Truax Field has finally come to a close.

The Air Force announced Wednesday that the jets will be hosted in Madison.

“The Airmen of the 115th Fighter Wing are honored to be chosen by the Secretary of the Air Force as one of the earliest Air National Guard Wings to convert to the F-35A, a strategic asset for the United States,” said Col. Erik Peterson, commander of the 115th Fighter Wing. “I am humbled by the incredible performance and dedication our Airmen executing both our federal and state missions, and we are committed to working with our community partners during this transition.”

Sen. Ron Johnson shared a statement Wednesday praising the Air Force’s decision.

“The new fighters will help maintain U.S. air superiority and keep our state and country safe and secure,” Johnson said. “The F-35s will also ensure the Air National Guard continues to play an important role in Wisconsin’s communities and economy.”

The public comment period on the draft Environmental Impact Statement ended in November.

The statement allowed the public to share their opinions on the U.S. Air Force’s decision to choose Madison as a location for the new jetsLawmakers discussed the final impact statement last month.

The decision to host the jets has been a contested one, as Dane County Board supervisors introduced a resolution in opposition earlier this month. Local residents have also protested the decision by the hundreds.

“It is absolutely shameful that the Air Force is insisting on placing these jets, which typically have not been put smack in the middle of a city, in densely populated communities that will be severely harmed,” said Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) in a statement. “An estimated 60,000 individuals live within three miles of the airport. Instead of listening to our community, the Air Force is intent on foisting these jets on a place they are not wanted. I know our community will continue to pursue all avenues, including legal action, to prevent this ill-advised decision from going forward to prevent the intense harm to our community the Air Force has sadly ignored.  Though the Air Force has failed us today, I am heartened by the advocacy and steadfastness of my community, and I hope that all levels of our government do what is needed to protect the well-being of all Madison residents.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan said the community must now work together to help out anyone who could be affected by the aircraft making its way to Madison.

In a statement, Pocan said: “Now the community needs to work to ensure that anyone who could be negatively affected by this decision will be made whole. According to the Environmental Impact Statement, more than 1,000 homes around the airport will now be exposed to higher noise levels because of the F-35s, and according to an analysis done by the City of Madison, some 500 homes may be ineligible for soundproofing assistance. No resident should be responsible for damages that are no fault of their own. I have requested that the Appropriations and Armed Services Committees ensure the Air Force provides funds to communities impacted by the noise of military jets, and am also drafting legislation to address these concerns myself. However, this needs to be a unified call from the community towards this effort.”