F-35s coming to Vermont this week

Published: Sep. 16, 2019 at 7:41 AM EDT
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F-35 fighter jets will begin arriving in Burlington later this week according to Burlington International Airport officials.

The airport's director of aviation, Gene Richards, says it's still unclear which day the jets will land. The two Vermont pilots who will fly the planes from Texas to the airport are scheduled to leave Vermont on Tuesday.

The Guard is due to receive 20 of the planes. Guard officials have said they will arrive in stages.

The next-generation fighter jet has been a long time coming and has faced a number of hurdles to get here. The Vermont Guard has come under fire over noise and safety fears surrounding the fighter jets, which are considered much louder than the F-16s they are replacing.

Several protesters were arrested just last week at Sen. Patrick Leahy's office in Burlington over the jets.

The F-35 is touted as the future of combat aviation-- virtually invisible to enemy radar. It combines those stealth capabilities with supersonic speed. It's the most expensive weapons program in history. Each jet costs more than $89 million.

The Vermont Guard is expected to spend a total of $160 million upgrading facilities for the jets.