Vt. Guard chief: Some F-35 opponents wrong
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | June 18,2012
COLCHESTER — The F-35 fighter jets the Air Force is considering basing at the Burlington International Airport are a “pathway to the future” for the Vermont Air National Guard and if the planes, which are noisier than the planes they are replacing, are sent elsewhere hundreds of local jobs could be lost, guard officials said.
Adjutant Gen. Michael Dubie said Thursday some critics of a proposal to base between 18 and 22 of the F-22A jets at the South Burlington Airport have used “fear or exaggeration” to argue against the planes.
“It has now become apparent that some members of our community have been making statements that are just not accurate,” Dubie said.
About 100 people demonstrated in downtown Winooski, which is under the flight path to the airport, on Thursday against the project. Many are concerned that the value of their homes would be hurt if the new planes were to begin flying into and out of Burlington.
“Normally I wouldn’t do this, but I feel so passionate about our property value and safety,” said Anne Ringer, 54, of Winooski. “I don’t want our property value to go down. I want my home equity.”
The Air Force released a draft environmental impact statement in March that said the F-35 would be noisier than the plane it is replacing, but it didn’t specify how much louder.
Dubie said the report reflected the sound the F-35 would make during full-power operations and did not take into account efforts by the guard to reduce noise.
“I guarantee you we will have aggressive noise-abatement procedures,” he said.
The public comment period for the study ends Wednesday.
The Air Force is expected to make a decision in November about where to base the planes.
Dubie said that if the Vermont Air Guard doesn’t replace the F-16, which is being phased out, the Vermont Air Guard is likely to become “much smaller.”
Vermont Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow said about 300 of its 400 full-time jobs are “directly related to aircraft operations” and could be cut if the F-35A goes elsewhere.