Washington, DC- Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Congressmen Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick have notified commanders at Mountain Home Air Force Base and the Idaho Air National Guard they have both qualified as top five locations, in their respective categories, under consideration for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The two locations are not competing against each other as Mountain Home Air Force Base is under consideration for the operation of up to three squadrons of the F-35, while the Boise Air Terminal is being considered for training and support missions through the Idaho Air National Guard.
"The Air Force clearly recognizes the excellent facilities, training range, community support and future contributions for Idaho in nominating Mountain Home Air Force Base and Boise Air National Guard to host our next generation fighters," Crapo said. "Over the past year, I have met with Air Force leaders and personally expressed my support for these missions to the Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz. This is exciting news, and the first step to securing the future missions for Idaho that will lead to an increased investment in jobs, aircraft and infrastructure in Idaho. I will follow closely the Air Force's consideration as we move ahead in this vetting process."
"Having two sites qualify in the top five reflects the first-rate facilities, training and support our military men and women receive in Idaho," said Risch. "As the public process now begins, I encourage Idahoans to play a supportive role in these important siting decisions."
"It is great news that the Air Force has chosen both the Boise Air National Guard and Mountain Home Air Force Base as candidate sites for the Joint Strike Fighter. Idaho has excellent training facilities, top notch military personnel, and outstanding community support. I look forward to working with the Air Force as they continue with their assessments," said Simpson.
"To be part of this final group is testament to the excellent, hardworking folks in the Boise Air National Guard and the crews at Mountain Home Air Force Base," Minnick said. "I will continue working with the Idaho Delegation and the Air Force to make the case that our state offers the best candidates to house the Joint Strike Fighters.
The Air Force considered 205 bases in this initial selection round on various factors including: airspace, flight training ranges, weather, support facilities, runways, taxi ramps, environmental concerns and cost. Military efficiencies, operational plans and building partnerships were also weighed.
The next step in the base selection process includes a formal environmental analysis, site surveys and public meetings. Senior Air Force Officials will then evaluate that and other data before announcing their preferred locations in late spring of 2010 and a record of decision by early 2011.
Initial deployment of the F-35 begins in 2013, with 250-300 aircraft projected for delivery by 2017. Sites not selected in the initial deployment will continue to be evaluated as potential homes for the 1,763 total aircraft slated for purchase by 2035.