South Dakota’s congressional delegation, as well as military officials, say the Air National Guard Base in Sioux Falls should be selected to host the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Joe Foss Field has access to uncongested airspace and can provide the necessary infrastructure, including two runways, needed to accommodate the fifth-generation fighter, Col. Russ Walz, commander of the 114th Fighter Wing, told the Argus Leader.
“We feel real good about it,” Walz said Wednesday. The 114th is one of 18 fighter units that could host the F-35. The Air Force is expected to announce its basing decisions for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter next year, including two Air National Guard locations.
On Tuesday, the state’s congressional delegation, along with Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) and Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Timothy Reisch, wrote to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to urge her to consider basing the service’s newest fighter in Sioux Falls.
“The 114th Fighter Wing has demonstrated outstanding mission readiness and a superior record of excellence, making South Dakota an ideal location as the next beddown site of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter,” the delegation wrote.
If selected, the F-35 likely wouldn’t arrive at Joe Foss Field until 2022, Walz said.