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Begich Meets Fairbanks Leaders to Discuss F-35 Transfer

Alaska’s junior Senator was in Fairbanks Thursday to discuss the transfer of new planes to an Air Force base.  KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more.

US Senator Mark Begich visited with Fairbanks community leaders Thursday to discuss the transfer of F-35 fighters to Eielson Air Force Base.  Alaska’s congressional delegation recently designated Eielson as a preferred location for the craft.   According to Press Secretary Heather Handyside, the planes will also bring a significant amount of jobs.   

“It will be two squadrons of 24 each jets, so that’s 48 jets total, and with that comes of course the pilots, the support crew, maintenance and operations guys, and their families, so it’s going to be about 2000 new folks at Eielson Air Force base being stationed there in the coming years.”

Begich met with Fairbanks community leaders, who were concerned that the base may lose its complement of F-16s, and if so, the loss of personnel, as well as the general logistics of the F35 transfer.  Handyside said Begich’s goal was to keep the process as transparent as possible.

“I think they felt reassured, knowing the delegation is watching out for this, will be keeping a close eye on it and making sure that the residents of Fairbanks and the interior are kept updated all the time on what the status is and just make sure that the process moves forward.”

The Air Force still has to submit an environmental impact statement as well as hold public hearings before the jets are brought to Alaska.  While a public schedule for these events has not been released, Begich assured the crowd he would pressure the air force to do so.