WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, today released the following statement on the United States Air Force decision to select Dannelly Field, home of the 187th Fighter Wing – the Red Tails – of the Alabama Air National Guard in Montgomery, for the new F-35A fighter jet program:
“This announcement by the Air Force is excellent news for our state and a true testament to Alabama’s work in the defense sector. The strong support of the community, along with the proximity of Dannelly Field to several other major military bases, saving both time and money, led Air Force Secretary Wilson to choose Montgomery for the new F-35A fighter jet program. I am extremely proud of the operational strength of the 187th Fighter Wing, and I look forward to seeing the success of this new undertaking.”
The Air Force has been working to identify site locations for Operations 5 and 6 for the F-35A fighter jet program. The Air Force currently trains 90 percent of their officers at Maxwell Air Force Base, also in the Montgomery area. Truax Field at Dane County Regional Airport in Wisconsin was also announced as a new site for the F-35A fighter jet program.
The F-35A is a 5th Generation fighter jet that combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three variants of the F-35 will replace legacy fighters for the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, and 10 other countries around the world. According to the Air Force, the F-35A will replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II’s, which have been the primary fighter aircraft for more than 20 years.
The 187th Fighter Wing, a part of the Alabama Air National Guard, is stationed at Montgomery Air National Guard Base and currently includes a squadron of F-16 fighter jets, a combat communications group, an RC-26 reconnaissance aircraft squadron, and an eagle vision unit. Colonel William Sparrow recently assumed command of the 187th Fighter Wing from Colonel Randy Efferson in a change of command ceremony at the Montgomery Regional Air National Guard Base.