Truax Field makes final cut as possible home of F-35’s

Other candidate bases in Alabama, Florida, Idaho and Michigan
Truax Field makes final cut as possible home of F-35’s

The Air Force announced Wednesday that Truax Field in Madison is one of five possible locations to house a new generation of fighter planes.

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.

Madison and the other finalists beat out 13 other cities. If chosen, all of the F-16’s currently at Truax will be replaced with cutting-edge F-35 jets.

Officials said the Air Force will now conduct surveys at each site. The assessment will look at operational requirements, infrastructure and manpower to manage the fighter planes. The Air Force will then develop cost estimates to determine where to place the F-35A planes.

If Madison is chosen, it would ensure that the $100 million annual economic impact the city gets from having the Air National Guard’s 115th Figther Wing here would continue for many years to come.

“I don’t think that we truly appreciate and notice how much of an economic impact $100 million is or what 1,200 people means, but if you think about what the Oscar Mayer closing meant to the north side, this is great news for the north side of Madison,” Madison Area Chamber of Commerce President Zach Brandon said.

The city also gets a lot of protection from having the Air National Guard in Madison because it houses the primary fire, crash and rescue crews for the Dane County Airport, fatality search and rescue crews, and a mobile emergency room.

People might have concerns about the nose F-35’s might make, but officials said the noise levels would stay the same or be even quieter and fewer jets would be used overall.

The Air Force hopes to make a final decision on where to base the planes in the spring of 2017.  Air Force officials said they will need to complete an environmental impact statement before making a final decision.

The Air Force expects to start permanently stationing the F-35As at the new Air National Guard locations sometime in the next decade.