F-35A night operations 3

An Airman from the 388th Fighter Wing’s 421st Aircraft Maintenance unit marshals an F-35A Lightning II during night flying operations at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, March 26, 2019. 

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — When it comes to federal military spending across the country, Utah — a state with one of the largest Air Force installations in the U.S. — ranks mostly near the middle of the pack.

That’s according to new research released Tuesday by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew studied government spending on defense in every state, tracking purchases of military equipment, wages for service members and civilians, pension payments, health care services and grants.

In fiscal year 2017 (which is the most recent year data is available) federal defense spending totaled $483 billion in the states and the District of Columbia, or $1,484 per person.

According to the study, Utah receives federal dollars at a rate higher than the national average for salaries and wages, non-retirement benefits (which includes payments for health care provided through the military’s Tricare Management Program) and grants. According to Pew, grants include funding to state and local governments for programs like the National Guard, medical research and development and scientific research.

Utah gets $516 per person, ranking number 20 overall, for salaries and wages paid out to active duty and civilian military personnel. The national average is $414 per person.

Utah ranks sixth overall in federal military grant money received, at $48 per person. The national average for grants is just $18. Ranking 31st overall, Utah gets $45 per person in federal health care dollars, compared to he national average of $44.

But the beehive state ranks below national averages for federal dollars doled out for military contracts and for retirement. Utah gets $451 per person (national average is $834) for the purchase of military-related goods and services, 31st in the country. The state receives $143 per person for military retirement, ranking 32nd overall. The national, per person federal spending average for retirement across the U.S. is $174.

Hill Air Force Base is far and away Utah’s biggest driver in military spending. According to the base’s recently released 2018 Economic Impact Statement, there were 25,709 total personnel at Hill in 2018, a figure that includes 5,788 military, 3,621 military dependents and 16,300 civilians. The base’s annual federal payroll is about $1.43 billion.

Three programs at Hill will likely push federal spending in Utah for years to come.

Crews on the base are working to develop a replacement for the Air Force’s fleet of nearly 400 Minuteman III nuclear missiles under the force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program by about 2030. According to the Congressional Research Service, the entire program will cost more than $60 billion and run for 30 years.

The base’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex performs maintenance on all Air Force F-35s and has done work on the Navy and Marine variants of the jet as well. The complex maintains the F-22 Raptor, F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt, C-130 Hercules and more. According to a base fact sheet, the complex employs more than 8,000 military, civilian and contract personnel.

Hill’s two fighter wings house the Air Force’s first operational F-35 combat fleet and will own 78 of the jets before 2019 is finished.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!