Madison’s 115th FW breaks ground on first F-35 project

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Cameron Lewis
  • 115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing officially broke ground on its first major F-35 project Aug. 11, 2021 at Truax Field.

The ceremony brought together military and civilian leadership to commemorate the future of the Madison unit as the selected beddown site of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft.

“This ceremony isn’t just about one project, but a celebration to reflect all the improvements and opportunities that the F-35 conversion will bring to the unit, the state and the Nation,” said Col. Bart Van Roo, the 115th Fighter Wing commander.

Throughout the beddown process relationships have been strengthened with the Federal Aviation Administration, Dane County Regional Airport, as well as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“These important stakeholders have ensured the health and welfare of our community and our environment are at the forefront of our beddown actions,” said Lt. Col. Mike Dunlap, the commander of the 115th Civil Engineer Squadron.

While the 115th FW has a long history of successfully converting from one aircraft to another, this conversion is thought to be as significant, if not more significant, than moving from propeller driven aircraft to jets in the early 1950s said Brig. Gen. David May, the deputy adjutant general for air, assigned to Wisconsin National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters in Madison.

“Progressing from 4th to 5th generation aircraft is like moving from a flip phone to a smartphone,” said May.

With such major advances in technology and safety, the F-35 is a critical piece of the President's national security strategy and will benefit the fighter wing’s mission to provide invaluable Homeland Defense to the Midwest region.

“As we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I’m proud to be able to say that this unit has sat alert 24/7/365 and still sits ready right now,” said Van Roo. “The F-35 will no doubt be a frontline deterrence and our reputation of excellence will once again be demanded.”

As a unit that’s comprised of citizen Airmen that come from this community, live in this community and stay for the long haul in this community, it’s no wonder that the fighter wing as a whole lives under the motto ‘Dedicated to Excellence’.

According to May, the men and women of the 115th Fighter Wing are more than just dedicated to excellence, they are the standard bearers for what excellence means in today's military.

“We are proud to be the hometown Air Force of Wisconsin and thrive on being a part of the fabric that holds our communities together,” said May. “With this conversion to the F-35 we ensure that as we support the needs for the state and the United states Air Force to fly, fight and win; providing air power anytime, anywhere for generations to come.”