The first two of an eventual 20 F-35 jets arrived at the Vermont ANG base in South Burlington, the first Guard unit to receive the latest US built fifth-generation fighter.
Taken on Sep. 20, 2019 the video in this post shows the first two of an eventual 20 F-35 jets arriving at the Vermont ANG base in South Burlington, the first Guard unit to receive the latest US built fifth-generation fighter.
The aircraft flew over the airport for the first time Thursday afternoon, doing several flyovers after the three-hour flight from the factory in Fort Worth, Texas.
As reported by Air Force Times, the delivery follows years of work and planning, as well as missions in the Guard’s previous aircraft, F-16s that flew continuously for weeks over New York after the 9/11 attacks and in combat tours in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
“Bringing the F-35 to Vermont secures our future for decades, and our country needs this airplane,” Col. David Smith, the commander of the 158th Fighter Wing, the new home to the F-35s, said after the planes arrived.
But the arrival of noisier aircraft marks the failure of years long efforts by some members of the community to keep the Air Force from delivering the planes to an airport that sits amid residential neighborhoods and industrial complexes in the middle of Vermont’s most populous county.
The former chair of the South Burlington City Council and retired Air Force colonel Rosanne Greco said that she supported basing the Joint Strike Fighter in her home city until she learned by reading the Air Force’s environmental impact statement about how noisy the F-35 is and what she feels are the dangers of having a new, unproven weapon system at a suburban airport.
“All I had to do was read what the Air Force said about the impact it would have,” Greco said. “The evidence was overwhelming it would have a very negative effect on close to 7,000 people” who live near the airport.
However, the Guard understands the concerns, said Smith. Vermont ANG in fact has modified traffic patterns the planes will use and checked the takeoff times to minimize noise disruptions, he explained.
“It’s really important to us to do everything we can to mitigate the impact on the community,” he said.
As for safety, he said, more than 400 F-35s have been delivered so far, and the planes have accumulated more than 200,000 flying hours.
The F-35 is conceived to replace a number of aging fighter aircraft and its assignment to Vermont ANG implies that the days are long gone when Air National Guard units received hand-me-down aircraft while new planes went exclusively to active duty Air Force units, said Ian Bryan, a retired Tennessee ANG pilot who worked in Washington as a legislative liaison with the National Guard Bureau.
Vermont, and the Guard, are at the forefront of learning how to make the best use of the new airplanes, he pointed out.
“Ten years from now, we need to have figured out how to use this F-35 thing, and it’s going to be the lead as the wings fall off some of these old airplanes,” Bryan said.
Flying the F-35 is similar to flying the F-16 said Vermont ANG Lt. Col. Tony “Scrappy” Marek, one of the pilots who flew to Burlington on Thursday.
“It’s been over a decade in the making,” Market said. “It’s a remarkable airplane. … It does truly amazing things, and I’m really excited to be able to fly it.”