Idaho military installations won’t get an initial share of the U.S. Air Force’s new jet, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Bases in Utah, Vermont and Arizona won a first installment of the single-engine jets, whose costs now run $113 million per plane.
The initial list for a new F-35 mission is “disappointing,” but does not mean Idaho’s bases are out of the running for future F-35 missions.
The Air Force says an initial review indicates a preference for locating the new fighter jets at locations other than Idaho. Idaho’s Congressional members, who were briefed by phone on the decision this morning, noted that they did receive assurances that both bases remain candidates for future F-35 missions.
Sen. Mike Crapo, in a statement for Idaho’s Congressional District, said, “The Air Force determined that housing three squadrons of F-35s at Mountain Home or Gowen Field would have required additional construction costs. That determination is disappointing because all of the sites chosen will require new construction to accommodate three squadrons.”
Crapo also noted that Gowen Field is in the running to receive an expanded mission for operations of the C-27J aircraft. The Boise base is one of two sites under consideration for operations for the Air Force cargo aircraft.
The C-27J is a twin turboprop engine aircraft designed for medium airland transport, according to the Air Force. It can provide access to airstrips otherwise unsuitable for fixed-wing aircraft.
Operational missions would go to Hill Air Force Base in Utah and the Burlington Air Guard Station in Vermont; for training, the Air Force is recommending Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.