Congressman Rob Bishop said he was informed Thursday by top Air Force Officials that Hill Air Force Base (AFB) has been selected as the Air Force's "preferred alternative" for the location of the first two operational squadrons for the advanced F-35 stealth fighter.
Operation could begin as early as July 2013, according to Bishop in a press release out of Washington, D.C.
Officials indicated that Hill would likely obtain a third operational squadron mid-2019, assuming the F-35 program remains funded and on-course, he said.
F-16s currently stationed at Hill in two remaining squadrons at the 388th Fighter Wing are gradually being shifted into Air National Guard units nationwide, and the hope is to replace those planes with new F-35s as they roll off the production line in 2013.
The F-35A Lightning II is the Air Force version of the airplane developed by the Joint Strike Fighter Program.
"Utah, and specifically Hill AFB, is home to one of our nation's premier air-combat training facilities and I am pleased that it will be home to the Air Force's new F-35," Bishop said.
"It makes perfect sense for the Air Force to select Hill for the F-35 given its proximity to the incomparable Utah Test and Training Range, and also the squadron's co-location with the Ogden Air Logistics Center,
which will maintain the F-35 for decades to come. This is very welcomed
news," he said.
"While the decision is not one-hundred percent concrete until the final Environmental Impact Statement is complete, I am confident that we will clear all necessary requirements in order to ensure that Hill continues to play a prominent role in the Air Force's readiness and training capabilities," Bishop added.
The final record of decision making Hill's selection certain is expected in January 2011.
This topic is being discussed at the Weber County Forum.