F-35 Mission Essential to the State’s Economy, Security & Future of the Vermont Air National Guard
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott issued the following statement regarding Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson’s testimony before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.
“After a national search, Vermont’s Air National Guard was the third unit to be assigned to the F-35 mission, and the only National Guard unit. Vermont is very proud our National Guard would stand out in such a competent and crowded field.
“In an exchange with Senator Patrick Leahy, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Thursday, Secretary Wilson verified the F-35 is the only mission available to the Vermont Air National Guard following the retirement of the F-16 fighter jet. If the F-35 is not based here, Secretary Wilson was very clear that it is ‘highly likely’ Vermont’s National Guard would no longer have a flying mission.
“Our Air National Guard is one of Vermont’s most essential and valuable state assets – both in terms of security and our economy. Having the F-35 based here supports more good paying jobs, strengthens our position in the aerospace economy, and helps us recruit equipment suppliers and manufacturers.
“Combined, the Vermont Air National Guard provides 3,634 jobs for Vermonters — making it one of our state’s largest employers, with a collective payroll that puts it on a scale comparable to Global Foundries (formerly IBM). Burlington International Airport is also an essential economic hub for our state. The Vermont Air National Guard is an essential partner in the operation and long-term vitality of the airport.
“With the F-16 mission ending in March 2019, its replacement with the F-35 is essential to our state’s economy and the job retention and creation, housing and infrastructure goals we all share.
“The Air Guard and the F-35 are an essential part of enhancing the quality of life, vibrancy and vitality of the region and state. We can be proud Vermont will continue to play such a significant role in the defense of our nation.”