AF names candidate bases, criteria for choosing next F-35A sites

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials announced April 12 that Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona; Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida; Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas; and Whiteman AFB, Missouri, are candidate bases for the first Reserve-led F-35A Lightning II location.

The preferred and reasonable alternatives are expected to be selected in the fall and the F-35As are slated to begin arriving at the first Reserve-led F-35A location by the summer of 2023.

The Air Force also released basing criteria that will be used to select candidate bases for two Air National Guard squadrons, which are planned to receive their first aircraft in the summer of 2022.

“The Air Force is committed to a deliberate and open process to address F-35 basing,” said Jennifer A. Miller, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations. “As we progress through the basing process, we will share information so interested communities are aware of what to expect.”

The basing criteria for the Air National Guard bases include mission requirements (weather, airspace and training range availability), capacity (sufficient hanger and ramp space, and facility considerations), environmental requirements, and cost factors.

The Air Force will evaluate Guard installations with runways of at least 8,000 feet and operational A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons or F-15 Eagles against the approved criteria to identify candidate bases for the F-35A.

After identifying candidate bases, the Air Combat Command and Air National Guard will conduct site surveys at each location as applicable. Site survey teams will assess each location against operational requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, infrastructure and manpower, and then develop cost estimates to bed down the F-35A.

Based on the results of these efforts, the Air Force plans to identify candidate installations for the Air National Guard locations this summer before selecting the preferred and reasonable alternatives and beginning the environmental impact analysis process later this year.