AP NEWS
Click to copy
Click to copy

Vermont Air National Guard preparing for arrival of F-35s

August 3, 2019

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The first F-35 fighter jet that will be based at the Burlington International Airport has taken its first flight with the tail markings of the Vermont Air National Guard.

The guard said the F-35 left Wednesday from Fort Worth, Texas.

The Vermont National Guard, the first guard unit in the country to be assigned the F-35s, is due to take delivery at the South Burlington airport of the first aircraft next month.

The guard has been preparing for years for the arrival of the F-35s, which are replacing the F-16s the guard flew for decades.

The plan to base the F-35s at the Burlington airport sparked opposition from some who argued the new planes, louder than the F-16s, should not be located near residential neighborhoods.

Nine Vermont Air National Guard pilots have qualified or are in upgrade training to fly the F-35. Another six pilots are scheduled for training before the end of the year.

Hundreds of operations, maintenance, and mission support personnel are also preparing for the arrival of the F-35s, the guard said.

“They have worked incredibly hard to train and prepare for the arrival of the F-35s and we are ready,” said Col. David Smith, commander of the 158th Fighter Wing.

The air guard base in Burlington is undergoing $117 million in upgrades, scheduled to be completed by next summer.

While the first plane is due to arrive in September an official arrival ceremony is scheduled for October.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.