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F-35A fighters. Photo: USAF
F-35A fighters. Photo: USAF

Air Force: F-35 will come to Burlington

The F-35, the Air Force's new, expensive fighter jet, has a new home: Burlington, Vermont. In 2020, 18 planes will come to the Vermont Air National Guard base at the Burlington Airport and replace the existing F-16s.

The debate over whether to bring the F-35 to town has divided people in Chittenden County for years. Opponents say noise levels from the plane will adversely affect people who live near the airport, including children and minority populations. Supporters say the plan will keep the Air Guard in the area, provide jobs and spur economic growth.

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Reported by

Sarah Harris
Reporter and Producer

It’s official, says Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek. The F-35 is headed to Burlington.

"The first F-35 As are scheduled to arrive in Burlington in 2020."

 She explains that the existing F-16s that currently fly in and out of the Air Guard base will be phased out.

And she says the Air Force decided on Burlington "because it presents the best mix of infrastructure, air space, and overall cost to the Air Force."    

Nicole Citro is an insurance agent who lives in Essex Junction, Vermont. Last year she started the Green Ribbon campaign, so that businesses and homeowners could show their support for the Air Guard. She says the announcement is really good news. 

"I’m so happy right now, my face hurts I’m smiling so much," Citro exclaimed over the phone. 

But not everyone shares Citro’s excitement about the new plane. For months, anti-F-35 groups in Burlington have held protests, meetings, and demonstrations.   

Roger Bourassa, from Colchester, is among the plane’s opponents.

"Well I feel very disappointed. Even though I’m a retired lieutenant colonel and I flew with the Vermont Guard at one time, I feel this is an improper decision." 

Bourassa says he’s particularly disappointed with Senator Patrick Leahy, a key supporter of the new plane.

But he says the fight’s not over. He says opposition groups will  keep raising money "so that we can continue with the lawsuits that we have, and any others that we might develop." 

Vermont’s congressional delegation, Governor Peter Shumlin, and Burlington mayor Miro Weinberger all support the arrival of the new jet.

 

 

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