Montgomery makes the short list for F-35s stealth fighter jets


The U.S. Air Force announced Wednesday Montgomery-based 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field Air Guard Station could be the future home to roughly 18 F-35s. The airfield is one of five installations still under consideration.

Before the Air Force makes its final decision there will be an Environmental Impact Study along with a public comment period.

The entire decision process could take up to two years. If selected, the F-35s might not arrive at Dannelly Field until 2021 or 2022.

Alabama 7th District. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell has been among those in Alabama advocating the 187th and Dannelly Field for the F-35 assignment.

“I am excited that the 187th Fighter Wing, located at Dannelly Field, has made it through the first round of cuts by the Air Force to receive the coveted new Joint Strike Fighters,” said Sewell. “The 187th Fighter Wing has an unparalleled legacy of excellence worthy of praise and our continued investment.”

Sewell continued, “I continue to be a strong advocate for the 187th National Guard unit in my district. As a Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I have a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities that confront our nation. As such, I understand the importance of the 187th being awarded these new fighter jets to our mission of maintaining air-superiority and providing effective air-cover for our men and women deployed in combat zones.”

Sewell’s not the only Alabama politician fighting for the the F-35s. 2nd District. U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is also dedicated to bringing the jet fighters to the Yellowhammer State.

“Alabama’s 187th Fighter Wing is an excellent candidate for the F-35 program, which is evident by its placement on this short list,” Roby opined. “The F-35’s next-generation capabilities will give American aviators unquestioned air superiority in combat situations around the globe, and I have no doubt the men and women of the 187th will excel in their mission if selected for this program. The 187th Fighter Wing has long been a point of pride for our state, from its impressive combat track record in recent conflicts to its proud history as the legacy unit of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.”

According to Sewell, beyond being a point of pride for the state, the selection of the Dannelly Field would make a positive economic impact on River Region’s economy.

“It is also imperative that the 187th remains a viable installation as an economic driver for the River Region,” Sewell explained. “State estimates show that the military footprint  in  Alabama  provides 177,000  direct  and  indirect  jobs and  an  economic  impact totaling $17 billion, 12% of the State’s GDP.  Consequently, changes to the force or structure of the military in Alabama are felt across the State, and particularly in areas where installations are located, such as Montgomery, Alabama.”

The F-35 is the military’s most cutting-edge war machine that will eventually replace many Cold War-era fighters like the F-16 currently flown by the 187th.

The other bases being considered are Jacksonville Air Guard Station in Florida, Gowen Field in Idaho, Truax Field Air Guard Station in Wisconsin and Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan.