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F-35 may be based at Davis Monthan

Posted at 6:33 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 21:36:32-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Air Force is thinking of stationing F-35s at Davis Monthan Air Force Base.

Local business leaders see the plane as a way to keep D-M open, active and boosting the local economy long after the A-10's retired.

But critics want the new plane to go somewhere else.  They say it will be much too loud for neighborhoods and less safe than the planes most common at D-M now.

 

Davis-Monthan is one of four bases the Air Force is considering for an Air Force Reserve unit that would fly F-35's in about seven years.  

     

That's about the time the Air Force plan to stop flying the A-10s.

       

Local leaders do not want the end of the A-10 to mean the base will slow down or shut down. So they see the chance of a F-35 unit as very good news.  They want to be sure the Air Force sees DM as a place with great weather, close to great places to train.

Larry Lucero of the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance says, "Arizona, Goldwater Gunnery Range, Davis Monthan all fit that to a tee and we need to make the Air Force decision makers fuller aware that is an asset, an irreplaceable asset, treasure that we have in Southern Arizona."

The Air Force Economic Impact Report estimates the base adds $1.5 Billion to the local economy through purchases, salaries and the impact of military retirees attracted to the base.

Critics like the group Tucson Forward want to keep the base open and adding to the local economy but they don't think the F-35 is a good way to do it

They worry a single engine plane like the F-35 is more prone to crash and it is noisier than the A-10. A-10s are unusually quiet for a warplane. Tucson Forward has contacted the Air Force with concerns about the F-35 and local impact of events like DM's airshows.

When there are safety and noise concerns about the planes that fly into DM now or could fly in in the future, they often center on the neighborhoods like the long established Sam Hughes neighborhood which is right across the street from the University of Arizona, through that area planes headed for Davis-Monthan often fly directly overhead.

F-35 supporters say careful flight paths and skillful operations can keep the plane a good neighbor.  Critics do not think those steps will be enough.

       

The Air Force will be doing an elaborate environmental assessment before it decides where the new plane will land.