Truax Field selected to receive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

  • Published
  • By Capt. Leslie Westmont
  • 115th Fighter Wing

The United States Air Force announced today that the 115th Fighter Wing, Truax Field Air National Guard Base, will receive the F-35A Lightning II aircraft.

After a three-year process, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett signed the record of decision selecting the 115th Fighter Wing as the next location to receive a fleet of F-35A Lightning II aircraft to replace its aging F-16 jets.

“The Department of the Air Force selected the 115th Fighter Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing as the next Air National Guard locations to receive the F-35A,” Barrett said. “Putting F-35s at these two bases continues our transition into the next generation of air superiority.”

The United States Air Force in 2017 selected the 115th Fighter Wing and Truax Field as one of its two preferred candidate bases, out of five originally considered for the next two F-35A bases. The Air Force’s basing criteria included mission requirements such as weather, airspace and training range availability, capacity requirements that focused on facility considerations, environmental requirements and cost factors.

Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, welcomed the announcement and said it is a bright day in the Wisconsin National Guard’s history.

“This is a great time for the 115th Fighter Wing and the entire Wisconsin National Guard," Knapp said. "The decision represents the hard work and professionalism of the citizen Airmen who have proven time and time again that we stand ready to answer the call both as the Air Force’s combat reserve and as the state’s first military responder during emergencies." 

Truax has a legacy of service in Madison dating back more than 70 years and a long record of achievements in a variety of aircraft.

"The F-35A will be no exception to that tradition as we continue to perform our state and federal missions in the most advanced fighter in the U.S. Air Force," he said. "As we prepare for the bed down of the F-35, I look forward to our partnership with the City of Madison and surrounding communities.  Through collaboration, I'm confident we will continue to be good stewards of the communities in which we work and live."

The Secretary of the Air Force’s decision comes after three years of analysis as part of the National Environmental Policy Act- required Environmental Impact Statement process, which included public input on the decision.

 “The Airmen of the 115th Fighter Wing are honored to be chosen by the Secretary of the Air Force as one of the earliest Air National Guard Wings to convert to the F-35A, a strategic asset for the United States," said Col. Erik Peterson, commander of the 115th FW. "I am humbled by the incredible performance and dedication of our Airmen, executing both our federal and state missions, and we are committed to working with our community partners during this transition."

The base will receive 18 F-35As, which will replace the current 21 primarily assigned F-16 Fighting Falcons, and the first aircraft arrival is estimated to be in 2023.