The selection of Madison’s Truax Field as one of two preferred sites for the next-generation F-35A fighter plane will not only enhance the nation’s defense capabilities, but expand the Dane County economy and provide opportunities for area students, technologists and more.
A final announcement is expected in about a year, after the U.S. Air Force conducts an environmental impact study. Dannelly Field near Montgomery, Ala., will also be a home for the F-35A jets.
“The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, which led this effort with support of groups such as the Tech Council, estimates an annual economic effect of $100 million per year once the basing is completed in the early 2020s,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council. “Once the siting is completed, it will be a part of the community’s fabric for decades to come.”
The F-35A is a fifth-generation fighter jet that combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three variants of the F-35 will replace legacy fighters for the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps and 10 other countries. The F-35A will replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II’s, which have been the primary fighter aircraft for more than 20 years.