Public comment period extended for F-35s

Congressman Mark Pocan asked for and has received an extension on the public comment period for the proposed basing of F-35 jets at Truax Field in Madison. The U.S. Air Force informed Pocan Sept. 26 that it has extended the public comment period on the controversial basing designation for another 30 days, and the public will now have until Nov. 1 to weigh in.

The Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing, which is based at Truax Field, is one of two preferred sites for basing the F-35s but concerns over noise have placed a final designation in doubt. Several public bodies, including the Madison Common Council, have asked the Air Force to reconsider Madison as a home base for the jets if those problems cannot be addressed. A final decision is expected in February 2020.

In a statement released on Thursday, Pocan praised the extension and called for additional testing to assess noise over affected neighborhoods. “We also hope they will reconsider conducting a take-off and landing test to more accurately assess the noise impact of the F-35s,” he states.

A preliminary environmental impact statement notes the planes would be incompatible for homeowners near Truax, which is based at Dane County Regional Airport on Madison’s east side. Backers of the basing decision note that incompatible does not mean uninhabitable, and say Madison has a history of implementing effective noise-abatement programs.

A change of heart by the Air Force could mean that Madison will lose the 115th Fighter Wing, which has been part of the community for 71 years, though Air Force officials have downplayed that possibility. About 1,200 people are employed there.

The public can still comment on the basing of F-35 jets at Truax Field by visiting the following website, www.ANGF35EIS.com.

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