HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- The Air Force has revamped its environmental study on the F-35A, and while changes in the document related to Hill Air Force Base are minimal, the move will delay the arrival of two fighter squadrons at the base.
Earlier this month, the Air Force released a revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Operational Wing Beddown of the F-35.
According to Col. Jennifer Kilbourn, chief of the force's Air Combat Command's Engineering Division, the revision was necessary to supplement and improve information in the original study and correct some factual and typographical errors.
The original study, which was released last spring, was updated with census material from 2010. The original report, used population data from 2000.
According to the revised document, changes from the previous EIS as related to Hill are minor.
The number of people affected by noise levels of 65 decibels or greater will be slightly more with the adjusted census numbers in the report. The revised EIS shows that up to 9,039 people could be exposed to noise levels greater than 65 decibels.
While changes at Hill are small, the revision has delayed the basing process.
The Air Force now says that it expects the F-35 will reach the stage of "initial operation capability" by December 2016. During public hearings held in Ogden and Layton last spring for the original draft EIS document, Air Force officials said Hill was scheduled to activate two F-35 squadrons sometime in 2013.
Hill is listed as the Air Force's preferred alternative for the location of the first two operational squadrons of the jet and a possible third squadron.
The move would bring 72 new jets to the base. Hill currently has two F-16 squadrons and 48 jets.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said delays to the delivery of the F-35 need to come to an end.
"We're now in the third delay of the delivery of the F-35," Hatch said. "This has been studied, it's been discussed, and it's high time to move forward with the delivery of the jet."
With the revision now available at www.accplanning.org, the Air Force is again asking for public comment. Comments must be submitted in writing by July 16 to ensure they are addressed in the final EIS.
Comments can be mailed to Nick Germanos, F-35A EIS Project Manager, HQ ACC/A7NS, 129 Andrews Street, Suite 332, Langley Air Force Base, VA 23665-2769.
No new public hearings will be held.