WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Idaho congressional delegation welcomed the news that Gowen Field in Boise is among five candidates to become the home to a new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter squadron. The decision by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James was announced Dec.7.
Gowen Field and the Idaho Air National Guard ranked highly among 18 candidates, based on factors including weather, training infrastructure, cost, facilities and environment.
The other four finalists are Dannelly Field Air Guard Station in Alabama, Jacksonville Air Guard Station in Florida, Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan and Truax Field Air Guard Station in Wisconsin. Two Air Guard stations will be selected to support 18 to 24 aircraft.
The Air Force will conduct two-week site visits to each of the five candidates in the coming months and plans to select two “preferred” and two “reasonable” alternatives in the Spring of 2017. Those four bases will receive a complete Environmental Impact Analysis before the Secretary issues a final decision, expected in Spring 2019.
Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Rep. Raúl Labrador all commented on the positive nature of the announcement.
“Today’s announcement confirms Gowen Field is an premier location for operations of the U.S. Air Force’s next generation fighter,” Crapo said. “Our state has a long and proud tradition of supporting our military and contributing to the nation’s defense, and we have the capabilities and air space optimal for an F-35 flying unit. As the Air Force moves ahead with the basing selection process, I look forward to continuing to offer my unwavering support for Idaho’s Air National Guard.”
Risch added “I am pleased that Gowen Field is a candidate for the Air Force’s new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Idaho Air National Guard would be a strong choice for the new F-35 due to Idaho’s world class ranges, available airspace for training, and the unparalleled support throughout the community. Idaho has been home to a range of cutting-edge aircraft and I look forward to continuing this tradition.”