(KCPW News) Hill Air Force Base has been selected to house one to three squadrons of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, though the decision is still subject to an environmental review. In a news conference today, Utah Senator Bob Bennett said this should secure the future of the base as the F-16 is gradually phased out.
“I’m not surprised that they decided that this is where the F-35 should be, but obviously I’m very delighted, because this, I believe, secures the future of Hill Air Force Base as far as any of us can see,” Bennett said.
Hill is one of three bases selected to house active-duty, operational F-35s. The earliest they would be delivered is 2013.
Senator Orrin Hatch acknowledged that the stealth fighter is noisier than previous aircraft used by the Air Force. But he doesn’t think that will be a problem for the community.
“We can live with it because of the patriotism out there in the state, and frankly, it shouldn’t be a big problem,” said Hatch. “And there is a huge land mass, and most of the northwestern part of Utah is part of that Utah Test and Training Range.”
The 388th Fighter Wing currently stationed at Hill Air Force Base consists of three fighter squadrons with 72 F-16s.