Madison’s Truax Field chosen for F-35A aircraft
In a much anticipated announcement, the United States Air Force has chosen the 115th Fighter Wing at Dane County Regional Airport’s Truax Field as one of two preferred candidate bases to receive the Air Force's F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
The 115th Fighter Wing was selected along with Dannelly Field Air Guard Station in Montgomery, Ala. for the latest F-35A missions.
In praising the selection, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker noted the Air Force recognized Truax’s “unrivaled capabilities,” which he says meet or exceed all the necessary requirements for the missions. During a competitive strategic basing process, the facility had broad community support for the Wisconsin Air National Guard, the State of Wisconsin, the City of Madison and the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Dane County, and Wisconsin’s congressional delegation.
“This is outstanding news for the State of Wisconsin,” Walker said in a prepared statement. “I commend the Air Force’s decision to select Truax Air National Guard Station as the next home for the F-35A Lightning II and the vital mission that the USAF's most advanced fighter aircraft will perform.”
Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, also praised the announcement, noting there are steps remaining in the siting process. “We are excited for the future of the 115th Fighter Wing and the Wisconsin Air National Guard and honored that Truax Air National Guard Base was selected for this important mission,” Dunbar states. “We look forward to working with each of Truax Field's surrounding communities, along with local, state, and federal elected officials as we go forward with the Environmental Impact Statement process.”
The Air Force will conduct an official environmental impact analysis and site assessment process on each of the original five candidate bases chosen beginning this winter. Once completed, a formal Environmental Impact Statement will be published, and the U.S. Air Force will release a formal record-of-decision announcing a final basing decision.
The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, particularly President Zach Brandon, was given credit for preparing Madison’s winning bid and forming an organization called Together Truax to advocate for the selection of Truax Field. Commenting on the Air Force’s announcement in a prepared statement, Brandon notes the economic impact of the 115th Fighter Wing, which is served by 1,200 airmen.
“The selection of the 115th to receive the F-35A ensures the benefits of the base — including $100 million in annual economic impact, emergency services for Dane County Regional Airport, and tuition support for area students who serve in the Guard — will remain in Greater Madison for decades to come,” he says.
Paul Jadin, president of the eight-county Madison Region Economic Partnership, or MadREP, called the decision another win that bodes well for the community. “Something like this,” he says, “is a perfect example of a community going to bat for its existing assets. That’s really what economic development is all about — trying to retain what you have and grow it.”