Congressman John Rutherford in partnership with Senator Rubio, Senator Nelson, and the entire Florida delegation today sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to advocate for the basing of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at the 125th Fighter Wing in Jacksonville.
Congressman John Rutherford said, “Jacksonville is the ideal home for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter due to our strategic location with unmatched training infrastructure and airspace. In addition to this being the right use of force at the right location, the State of Florida has a long history of supporting our military, and Northeast Florida presents unparalleled quality of life opportunities for the personnel this decision would bring. We appreciate the Air Force’s recent visit to the 125th and look forward to the new Secretary’s decision later this summer.”
Earlier this year, the Air Force named Jacksonville’s Florida National Guard wing as one of the five finalists for the current basing rounds under consideration. The Secretary of the Air Force will make her basing decision late this summer two of the five finalists, which include facilities in Montgomery, AL; Boise, ID; Selfridge, MI, and Madison, WI. If Jacksonville is selected, the F-35 will replace aging fighter jets, many of which date back to the 1970s. The F-35 will be the world’s most advanced fighter jet.
The text of the letter can be found below:
May 25, 2017
The Honorable Heather Wilson
Secretary of the Air Force
1665 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20330
Dear Secretary Wilson:
We are writing to thank the Air Force for its recent visit to the 125th Fighter Wing and to again express our support for basing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with Florida’s Air National Guard.
As you know, the Florida Air National Guard installation in Jacksonville is home to the 125th Fighter Wing, which currently maintains and flies F-15 C/D Eagles. Due to the wing’s critical southeastern United States air defense mission and strategic location, we must partner together, in the interest of our national security, to ensure that the 125th FW is equipped with the most capable combat aircraft within the U.S. inventory. As representatives from both SAF/IE and Air Combat Command have now seen, the 125th FW best meets the F-35 basing requirements at the lowest cost to the taxpayer and has unparalleled training infrastructure and airspace.
The City of Jacksonville and the State of Florida have a long history of supporting our military. Due to our nearby and surrounding installations, Northeast Florida has unmatched quality of life opportunities for personnel and their families. Additionally, Jacksonville has uniquely taken great care in creating buffer zones and reducing encroachment issues.
We are confident that your continued review will show that 125th Fighter Wing is highly capable of supporting this fifth-generation fighter platform and that basing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in Jacksonville applies the right force at the right place. We look forward to your upcoming decision and standby to assist in any further way.