Sunday, July 30, 2017

Commissioner, senator make case for F35 jets to come to Jacksonville, Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville is hoping to bring F-35 jets to our area. Commissioner Adam Putnam sent a letter to the secretary of the Air Force to explain why Jacksonville should get the program.

Right now the Air National Guard flies F-15s locally, but that jet is set to be phased out.

In his letter to the secretary, Putnam wrote, "Jacksonville continues to meet the highest standards of the Air Force's F-35A basing selection criteria."

In addition to Putnam, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has lobbied for Jacksonville to be awarded the F-35s.

"The F-35s, that is a real compliment to the Air National Guard. I want to see that in Jacksonville," Nelson said.

In December, the Air Force selected Jacksonville as one of five finalists to house the fighter jet but have yet to make a final decision. The other finalists the Air Force is considering are Montgomery, Alabama; Boise, Idaho; Selfridge, Michigan; and Dane County, Wisconsin.

If Jacksonville is ultimately chosen, the unit would begin to transition from the F-15 fighter jets it currently is using to the new F-35A joint strike fighter jets as early as 2022.

The F-35 would allow the Florida National Guard to continue to perform its mission and protect the skies of the southeastern United States for the next 50 years.

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