WAMC News, North Country News
5:22 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Crowd Voices Opinions on Potential F-35's

The U.S. Air Force is considering five sites across the country to host their new generation of fighter jets.  One of its preferred sites is the National Guard base in South Burlington, Vermont. Both supporters and opponents packed a hearing last night to voice their opinions on the plan.

At least 18 new F-35 military jet fighters could be housed at the Vermont Air Guard Base at the Burlington International Airport in South Burlington. At least 300 people attended a hearing Monday night where supporters pointed to the economic benefits and the strengthening of the local National Guard if the Air Force sites the jets in the Burlington area. Vermont Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Business Development Chris Carrigan also manages the Chamber’s Aerospace and Aviation Association.  Carrigan says they have been promoting the assignment of the F-35's to the Vermont National Guard base for four and a half years for key economic reasons.

Critics of the plan are concerned about the jet’s higher noise levels and the impacts on local residents. Activist and blogger Juliet Buck says the Air Force is considering putting the new planes in the most densely populated area of Vermont.

Buck believes the hearing was a forum for proponents of the Guard getting the planes, and is frustrated at how the opponents were characterized.
 
The Air Force is expected to make its decision by the end of the year.