News: VTANG first Air Guard Base to receive F-35A
Story by Capt. Dyana Allen
BURLINGTON, Vermont - Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, Adjutant General of the Vermont National Guard announced that the United States Air Force has selected the 158th Fighter Wing in Burlington, Vt., as the first F35A Air National Guard Base.
Burlington Air Guard Station is expected to receive 18 F-35As, replacing the 18 F-16 fighting Falcons currently assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing. The F-35A is expected to arrive in 2020.
“Burlington Air Guard Station (AGS) was selected because it presents the best mix of infrastructure, airspace and overall cost to the Air Force,” said Timothy Bridges, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations. “Burlington’s airspace and ranges can also support projected F-35A operational training requirements and offers joint training opportunities with F-15Cs from Barnes AGS, the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, and CF-18s stationed at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville in Quebec.”
Approximately 300 airmen on base on Tuesday gathered in a hanger while Cray thanked them for their professionalism and hard work. He spoke of the deployments around the world and of the assistance to the citizens of Vermont during Tropical Storm Irene. He spoke of the Vermont Air National Guard’s Firefighting Unit who have assisted in saving lives many times both on and off the airport.
“Throughout that entire time, we’ve asked nothing more than for you to just do your job; to be proud of who you are as Green Mountain Boys; and to be proud of your mission,” said Cray. “Today is a historic day for the United States Air Force, the Air National Guard and certainly, for the Vermont Air National Guard…This morning, I am pleased to announce, that the Secretary and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force have selected Burlington as the first Air National Guard Base for the F-35.”
Cray was joined by Gov. Peter Shumlin, Senator Patrick Leahy, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, and Chairwoman of the South Burlington City Council Pam Mackenzie.
Shumlin spoke about how proud he was of the Vermont National Guard and how this announcement is a proud day for all Vermonters. He spoke about the VTANG and the response to the 9-11 terrorist attack in New York City in 2001.
“You make us proud. What this decision does today is affirm your commitment, affirm your greatness and give us the equipment that we will need to continue to protect our nation and our state. Congratulations! This is an endorsement of your dedication, your service, your hard-work, and your effectiveness in protecting the greatest democracy in the land.”
When Leahy asked the Airmen if they were proud, he was responded to with loud cheers and applause. He spoke about his conversation with the Secretary of the Air Force and how they talked about the incredible record and the hard-working men and women of the Vermont Air National Guard.
“Vermont has done far more than its share over the decades in both the Army Guard and the Air. You have been called because you are the best,” stated Leahy.