Dear Editor: I support the United States Air Force stationing the F-35 fighter with the 115th Fighter Wing at Dane County Regional Airport. While historically the base has great significance to the area, this stationing is important for the future even more.
From a mission-readiness standpoint, this stationing makes sound fundamental sense. The 115th Fighter Wing is located only 65 miles from one of the premier training airspaces in the country. I have seen firsthand how the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center allows for quality full-spectrum joint training and mission readiness while minimizing operational costs. The close proximity of the 115th Fighter Wing to its primary training complex provides maximum mission readiness for national defense at the lowest cost, saving $16M-$32M annually. Both active and reserve component training is conducted here, and it is regarded as one of the best training spaces in the country.
The community impact has been and will continue to be extremely important to the area. The over 1,200 civilian and military employees who work at the 115th have an annual impact of $100 million on the area, including over $62 million in payroll, supporting 1,650 in-state jobs. The 115th contributes over $1 million in annual tuition payments to local colleges, returning citizen-airmen to our communities with an undergraduate degree, debt free, with six years of on-the-job technical training.
As a tenant user and valued partner with Dane County Regional Airport, the 115th is vital to the long-term economic sustainability of the airport. Many basic services and equipment that are provided for the airport, such as fire and rescue, are covered in full or in part by the 115th. These services would cost millions of dollars annually to Dane County taxpayers if it were not for the air wing. Finally, it is expected that the F-35 transition will generate in excess of $20 million of federal funding in order to prepare the base for the transition.
The F-35 stationing has bipartisan support from local, state, and federal legislators. Our elected officials understand that this transition is good for Wisconsin, and that the people who serve in our armed forces are valued members of our communities. More so than ever, Madison is an Air Force town!
Michael Moore, Badger Air Community Council director
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