Wheels down for 20th F-35 in Vermont
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It was wheels down Wednesday afternoon for the final of the F-35 fighter jets to arrive at the Vermont Air National Guard base, completing the Guard’s new squadron of 20 jets.
The 158th Fighter Wing is the only guard unit in the country to have the latest fighter. Wing Commander David Shevchik flew the $78 million plane up from Texas and was greeted with a Green Mountain Boys flag. “Today marks a matter in a notable milestone and also a clear reminder of the awesome responsibility that we all have been entrusted with,” Shevchik said.
Even though the last jet has arrived, officials say it will not be until the end of next year when the unit will be deployable.
Proponents say the plane is a boost financially, pumping millions into the local economy. Opponents say the jet is louder than the F-16 it replaces. Shevchik says they are taking steps to mitigate the noise by taking off and achieving maximum height as quickly as possible.
“Please note that we understand that our work comes with impact and we have taken significant steps to mitigate noise, that works includes avoiding patterns that involving flying near local schools, not conducting landing exercises here, we do that elsewhere and upon takeoff we achieve the maximum height and altitude as quickly as we can and when we land, we land at the highest altitude possible, all this to minimize the impact,” said Shevchik.
The Vermont Air National Guard is the first unit the country to get the F-35 jets.
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