Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Barnes 104th Fighter Wing out of running for F-35 fighter jets



WESTFIELD - Barnes Air National Guard base in Westfield did not make the cut as the Air Force continues to narrow down the field of potential bases to house the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, the base announced on Tuesday.

Barnes had been one of the bases under consideration for the advanced fighter jet, but did not make it through the round of cuts. The five remaining candidates for the two remaining slots are Dannelly Field Air Guard Station in Montgomery, Alabama; Gowen Field AGS in Boise, Idaho; Jacksonville AGS in Jacksonville, Florida, Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Detroit, and Truax AGS, Madison, Wisconsin. Previously, the Burlington AGS is Burlington, Vermont had been selected.

The final selections is scheduled to be made in the spring.

Col. James Keefe, base commander of the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes, said the base will continue to house the F-15 Eagle fighter jets.

"We will continue to provide combat air power to our nation for years to come no matter the type of airframe. Aircraft types may come and go, but the Airmen will continue to excel in our mission of defending our country," he said.

The F-15 jets at Barnes are being modified with advanced targeting, upgraded radar and satellite communications to support the base's mission and to have tactical implications overseas.

"The upgrades will carry us into the future to continue to exceed air superiority needs for America's Air Power," said Keefe. "As the Air Force continues to review future force structure, we expect the F-15C to play a critical role in the defense of our nation for the foreseeable future, especially when it comes to defending the homeland in its current 24/7 alert mission."

The F-35 Joint Strike fighters, costing $400 billion are the most expensive weapons system in military history.

The cost of the program this week caused President-elect Donald Trump to lash out on Twitter, saying the project was "out of control."

His criticism caused stock prices for Lockheed Martin to drop.

Story and comments:   http://www.masslive.com

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