By Jared Rand, 187th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 15, 2020
F-35 aircraft from the 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin AFB, Fla., taxi after landing at Dannelly Field in 2019. (Graphic illustration from 187th Fighter Wing 2020 mission video)
The United States Air Force announced today that the 187th Fighter Wing here will receive the F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
After a three-year process, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett signed the record of decision selecting the 187th Fighter Wing as one of the next two locations to receive a fleet of F-35A Lightning II aircraft to replace its aging F-16 jets.
“The Department of the Air Force selected the 115th Fighter Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing as the next Air National Guard locations to receive the F-35A,” Barrett said. “Putting F-35s at these two bases continues our transition into the next generation of air superiority.”
The United States Air Force in 2017 selected the 187th Fighter Wing and Dannelly Field as one of its two preferred candidate bases, out of five originally considered for the next two F-35A bases. The Air Force’s basing criteria included mission requirements such as weather, airspace and training range availability, capacity requirements that focused on facility considerations, environmental requirements and cost factors.
“We are thrilled that the waiting is over and we have received the final word that we will be the home of the F35. This decision continues the tradition of the Red Tails and Tuskegee Airman,” said Maj. Gen. Sheryl Gordon, Alabama Adjutant General. “I want to thank the Chamber of Commerce and County Commissioners for all their efforts and support. It is a great honor to be selected as the home of the most technologically advanced fighter in the Air Force inventory. We look forward to working with the Montgomery Airport Authority, the city of Montgomery and our State officials as we move ahead to prepare our facilities to accommodate the F35.”
The Secretary of the Air Force’s decision comes after three years of analysis as part of the National Environmental Policy Act- required Environmental Impact Statement process, which included public input on the decision.
“To be one of the first Air National Guard wings to convert to the F-35A is a tremendous honor and shows the faith that the Air Force has in our Red Tail Airmen and the state of Alabama,” said Col. Ed Casey, 187th Fighter Wing commander. “Our Airmen show up and get the mission done day after day, and we’ll continue to do that through this transition.”
The Red Tails will continue to fly the wing’s F-16 aircraft until the first F-35’s arrival at Dannelly Field, estimated to be in 2023.