MADISON, Wis. - Madison's Truax Field will house the next generation F-35 fighter jet, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, announced Thursday.
In a statement Baldwin congratulated the men and women of the 115th Fighter Wing for their selection to be a "preferred location for the F-35 squadron."
Madison beat out other locations being considered by the Air Force and Department of Defense including Dannelly Field Air Guard Station in Montgomery, Alabama; Gowen Field AGS in Boise, Idaho; Jacksonville AGS in Florida, and Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Detroit.
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, Tweeted Thursday morning that Dannelly Field in Montgomery has been chosen as the second location.
Gov. Scott Walker said this is outstanding news for the State of Wisconsin.
"I commend the Air Force's decision to select Truax Air National Guard Station as the next home for the F-35A Lightning II and the vital mission that the USAF's most advanced fighter aircraft will perform," Walker said in the release. "The Air Force recognized Truax's unrivaled capabilities, meeting or exceeding all the necessary requirements for the mission, and the broad community support for the Wisconsin Air National Guard from the State of Wisconsin, the City of Madison and Dane County in making their announcement."
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, said this is great news for the future of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, the employees of Truax Field and all of southern Wisconsin.
"I applaud the Air Force for recognizing the strategic importance of our state, and I look forward to Wisconsin playing a major role as the Air Force modernizes and enhances its capabilities to keep America safe and secure," Johnson said in a statement.
Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, said the Wisconsin National Guard was thrilled to be selected as one of the two preferred candidate bases in such a competitive strategic basing process.
The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce released a statement Thursday in response to the announcement.
"We are extremely proud and excited about today’s announcement for the 1,200 airmen of the 115th Fighter Wing, as well as for Greater Madison’s economy. The selection of the 115th to receive the F-35A ensures the benefits of the base, including $100 million in annual economic impact, emergency services for Dane County Regional Airport and tuition support for area students who serve in the Guard – will remain in Greater Madison for decades to come."
“This selection would not have been possible without years of commitment from the Wisconsin Air National Guard, the leadership of the 115th, the advocacy of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation, state leaders and local elected officials from Dane County, the Chamber’s partnership with the Badger Air Community Council and everyone who has shown their support through the Together Truax initiative. We are incredibly thankful to all of them for their hard work and dedication to making this day a reality," chamber officials said.
The jets will be flown by Madison's 115th Fighter Wing and would replace all of the F-16s currently at the Truax base.
Truax was announced as one of five bases being considered for the F-35 basing last year.
News 3 has previously reported that Madison benefits from having the fighter wing in the city because it gets a lot of protection from the Air National Guard, which houses the primary fire, crash and rescue crews for the Dane County Airport, and provides fatality search-and-rescue crews and a mobile emergency room.
After some community members expressed concerns about the noise levels of the F-35, officials told News 3 that the noise levels would stay the same or be even quieter.
Stay tuned to News 3 and Channel3000.com for the latest on this developing story.
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