F-35 basing decision expected Monday

An F-35 flies over Florida (U.S. Air Force photo)
An F-35 flies over Florida (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Air Force is expected to issue a final decision Monday on the basing of F-35 fighter jets at Eielson Air Force Base.

April 4th marks the end of a required 30-day waiting period since the final Environmental Impact Statement for the F-35 basing proposal was published.

Eielson is the Air Force’s preferred alternative as the Pacific region base for the high tech fighters, but Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Jim Dodson says it will be good to have a formal decision.

“[It’s the] culmination of a lot of work from, obviously, the Air Force, but also a lot of work from people in this community,” Dodson said. “So, I know there’s a lot of people excited about this.”

Dodson says he received an invitation to an event at Eielson Monday afternoon, and that the guest speaker at a Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce noon lunch is Eielson commander Colonel Mike Winkler.

Governor Bill Walker, and US Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan are also scheduled to be there.

Deployment of two F-35 squadrons to Eielson – which could include as many as 54 aircraft – will add over 1,500 service members, plus 1,200 dependents, nearly doubling the base’s population.

The project also includes construction of nearly $500 million of facilities to accommodate the fighter squadrons.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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