Air Force considering two bases to become training a center for the F-35 Lightning II

News

Gina Joseph

The Macomb Daily, Mount Clemens, Mich.

Sep. 21—Don’t get your hopes up.

But it looks as though Selfridge Air National Guard Base (SANG) is once again in the running to become a training center for the F-35 Lightning II fighter jets.

The Department of the Air Force (DAF) issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Tuesday for the beddown of a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Pilot Training Center (PTC) at Ebbing Air National Guard Base (ANGB) in Arkansas, or SANG in Harrison Township, according to Tuesday’s news release.

The proposed action would establish a permanent center for up to 36 aircraft including the F-35 and F-16 fighter planes, require use of respective fields and airspace, military construction projects, facilities sustainment, restoration and modernizations projects and an increase in personnel. Ebbing ANGB is the Preferred Alternate site while Selfridge ANGB stands as the second alternate. The number of personnel at each location would increase. Having the new center at SANG, however, would not require changes to airspace configuration to support the new personnel.

The latest news is yet another opportunity for SANG, which has been pining for Lockheed Martin’s state-of-the-art jets for a decade. Since 2013, the base and the communities surrounding the base have supported the idea but other bases have been chosen as the beddown for the fighter planes.

This past December, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks paid SANG a visit and while she was not there specifically to address the possibility of a pilot training center for the F-35, officials who joined her tour said she was definitely impressed by what she saw, which may have contributed to the recent announcement by the DAF.

What do you think?

As part of the process members of the public are invited to view the Draft EIS on the project website at FMSPTICEIS.com and provide any input on the project during a 45-day public comment period and public hearing stage. The hearings will give the public an opportunity to comment on the environmental impacts of the proposed actions presented in the Draft EIS.

The public hearings for SANG will be held on Sept. 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. at a location near the base. There will also be a virtual hearing held on Oct. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Those who wish to participate in the public hearing must register and sign up to provide an oral comment at FMSPTCEIS.com. Pre-registration is required for all meetings to comply with the Secretary of the Air Force COVID mitigation process. Meeting locations, links and instructions will be distributed after registering and prior to all public hearings. If unable to pre-register online for a hearing, interested participants may all call the public affairs office to register: 586-239-4735.

Comments on the Draft EIS must be submitted to the website or mailed by Oct. 17, 2022. Those being sent via the U.S. Post Office go to: FMS PTC EIS Project Manager, AFCEC/CZN, 2261 Hughes Avenue, Suite 155, JBSA Lackland, TX 78236-9853. Those being sent by FedEX and UPS go to: FMS PTC EIS Project Manager, AFCEC/CZN, 3515 S. General McMullen, Suite 155, San Antonio, TX 78226-2018.

For more information about the upcoming hearings or the project, visit FMSPTCEIS.com

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