Thursday, July 29, 2010
New Squadrons of Joint Strike Fighter moving to Eglin AFB
59 F-35s coming to Eglin First two Joint Strike Fighters expected in November Bart Jansen • News Journal Washington bureau • July 29, 2010 WASHINGTON — The Air Force plans to base 59 of its new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at Eglin Air Force Base, the Pentagon announced Wednesday. The Air Force initially planned to bring more than 100 F-35 aircraft to the base. But last year, following concerns from surrounding communities about noise from the new jets, officials lowered the initial number to 59 aircraft, and ordered additional research be conducted before more aircraft were assigned to Eglin. The announcement confirms the Air Force's cap of 59 aircraft, and brings the base one step closer to finalizing staffing levels and details of the F-35 training program — a move which is expected by spring. The first two planes are expected to arrive at the base in November. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Chumuckla, said he toured construction at the base about two months ago for the schoolhouse and for the pilots, and that "everything is on schedule." "It is something that was expected," Miller said of the decision, although other studies still must be completed. "In these economic times, getting close to finality is very important." Flight operations will also be conducted at Duke and Choctaw fields. The planes will be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marines. The base-closing commission decided that instructor pilots and support staff should be moved to Eglin from Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California and Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia. Some staff will also relocate from Naval Air Station Pensacola. The community there recognized that consolidation at Eglin was the best move for the Gulf Coast region.