Alaska’s congressional delegation applauded Thursday’s announcement by the Air Force that it would begin preparing an environmental impact statement for its plan to base two F-35A squadrons totaling 48 aircraft at Eielson Air Force Base.
The Federal Register notice is a “giant leap towards bringing the F-35 to the most strategic place in the world — and with Russia militarizing the Arctic, these F-35s can’t arrive soon enough,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan (R).
“Over the last few weeks, I have spoken with several senior Air Force leaders, including the chief of staff of the Air Force General Welsh, and they all have assured me that Alaska is home to the nation’s largest training ranges, the best airspace and some of the very best airmen in the Air Force,” Sullivan added.
The Air Force selected Eielson as its preferred site to host the two Joint Strike Fighter squadrons last year, reported the Hill. The president’s fiscal 2016 budget includes a request for $37 million to build an F-35 flight simulator facility at Eielson needed to help pilots prepare for the arrival of the jets in 2020.
The Air Force’s final basing decision is expected in 2016.