Fort Worth’s Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base has been designated by the Air Force as the preferred location for the first Air Force Reserve-led F-35 base, which is expected to begin receiving its first F-35As in the mid-2020s.
“We selected the Air Force Reserve unit in Fort Worth because it is the location that meets all of the necessary training requirements at the lowest cost,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in a news release. “Additionally, the location will provide mission synergy and access to an experienced workforce for recruiting as a result of its proximity to the F-35 manufacturing plant.”
The F-35 is manufactured in Lockheed’s Fort Worth plant near the base.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona; Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida; and Whiteman AFB, Missouri, will be considered as reasonable alternatives during the environmental analysis process which must be completed before the Air Force makes a final basing decision, according to an Air Force news release.
In December 2016, the Air Force released the candidate bases for the next two Air National Guard-led F-35 bases. The candidate bases included Dannelly Field Air Guard Station, Alabama; Gowen Field AGS, Idaho; Jacksonville AGS, Florida; Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan; and Truax AGS, Wisconsin.
The Air Force will be conducting on-the-ground site surveys at each candidate location assessing each location against operational requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, infrastructure and manpower, and then develop cost estimates to bed down the F-35A.
The preferred and reasonable alternatives for the ANG bases are expected to be selected in the summer of 2017.
The F-35As are expected to begin arriving at the second and third ANG locations in the early to mid-2020s.
The F-35 has come under fire recently as President-elect Donald J. has tweeted that “the F-35 program and cost is out of control,” Pentagon officials say the plane is now essentially on schedule and close to its budget after earlier problems.