The city of Madison is one of the final five cities in the running to play host to a new generation of F-35 fighter jets, but another city vying for the jets is trying to give Madison a run for its money.
According to a blog in the Spokesman Review, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is asking for $100,000 to lobby for the F-35's. Gov. Scott Walker told News 3 he would pay $100,000 or more to get the F-35's to the Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing, but he thinks Madison will be chosen for other reasons.
“If you look at the time it takes and the fuel that would be burned to go to the restricted air space that we have just moments away from here in Madison, you look at the air refueling potential because of the 128th air refueling ring out of Milwaukee, there are just so many benefits to make the compelling case to be here in Wisconsin,” Walker said of basing the jets in Madison.
The jets would utilize Volk Field and Fort McCoy. The $100,000 has already been raised in Madison by the private sector, according to the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce. The chamber and their partners, the Badger Ari Community Council, have also invested a lot of time into the project.
“We’ve got representatives working the federal level, we have representatives working the state level and we have three people on staff who are spending a significant amount of time on this,” chamber president Zach Brandon said.
Gov. Scott Walker said the state can match or exceed $100,000 in state taxpayer subsidies to house the 18 fighter jets. He says bipartisan support and the community's backing are more important.
The jets will breathe new life into the base in Madison, ensuring the $100 million annual economic impact the city gets from having the Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing would continue for years to come.
According to a release, Truax Field joins 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 as possible sites for the next two Air National Guard F-35A locations.