Fleckenstein: Air Force F-35 environmental impact hearing a sham

Editor’s note: Paul Fleckenstein lives in Burlington and is a member of the Stop the F-35 Coalition.

When several hundred people turned out to the Air Force’s draft environmental impact statement (EIS) hearing on basing the new F-35 bomber at Burlington’s airport (May 14), things didn’t begin well. For the first 20 minutes Sens. Sanders and Leahy, Rep. Welch, Gov. Shumlin and others issued statements declaring their unconditional support for the basing.

What about the nice flow chart laid out by the Air Force showing the environmental review process? Clearly, it didn’t matter. With contempt for the basic democratic process of a legally required review, Vermont’s political establishment confirmed that “Whatever the cost, environmental or social, it’s worth it.”

They were joined by an entourage of the local 1% who agreed that costs don’t matter. Another 20 minutes were taken up by the CFO of Fletcher Allen Health Care, the owner of Engelberth Construction, IBM spokespersons, college presidents, and other assorted Chamber of Commerce and business leaders invoking purported possibilities of economic calamity, protecting freedom, patriotism, the “war on terror,” 9/11, and the Vermont Guard’s role in Tropical Storm Irene response last year (although I missed the part where the F-16s aided flood victims) to push all recognition of F-35 environmental and social impacts off the table.

After this scripted attempt to intimidate anyone who dared to address the EIS, there were many great statements from people who actually read the document and care about what it says, and what it fails to investigate. Even with the poor F-35 data (the bomber’s development is not completed yet) used in the EIS, many things are clear: The F-35 will be significantly louder (maybe four times louder) than the current F-16s that bring classrooms to a halt and leave children cowering in their yards. The effect on affordable housing and working class neighborhoods will be significant, yet the EIS barely explores the subject. That the bomber’s mission is actually not wonderful, but as a plane designed to bomb the Middle East and Asia and potentially carry nuclear weapons, its function is widely unpopular. In fact, the F-16s have played a major role in the colonial occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here is a video from the U.S. siege of the city of Fallujah early on in the Iraq war showing the F-16 indiscriminately bombing a couple dozen Iraqis walking down a street. (http://globalresearch.ca/articles/BUN410A.html) Be prepared for your stomach to drop, but let’s be honest about the role of U.S. bombers like the F-16 and F-35.

This hearing was the “dog and pony” show that some F-35 basing opponents warned about. The next time the Air Force and the congressional delegation hold a “public” meeting on the F-35, a protest is in order.

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  • So much for our ‘progressive’ Congressional representatives. Money talks louder than principle.

  • michael gohl

    The people of Burlington and vicinity are getting a taste of the sham that is associated with the industrial wind turbines being built in the Northeast Kingdom and planned for throughout Vermont.

    Mobilize and pressure your politicians, and above else, be strong. Say that you heard it from the Governor: “I am Vermont Strong.”

  • timothy k price

    “assorted Chamber of Commerce and business leaders invoking purported possibilities of economic calamity, protecting freedom, patriotism, the “war on terror,” 9/11,”

    Yessirreebob ! Protect us from another 9/11. We don’t want 4 hijacked commercial planes flying around for more than an hour without even one attempt by the Air Force to intercept them. We need another multimillion dollar plane to do what none of the other were asked to do: keep us safe from… well, from whoever pulled off the false-flag attacks of 9/11 and used planes as a distraction, and excuse as to why the buildings fell. Now we know cause of all the namothermite in the dust, that military explosives planted in all 3 of the WTC buildings destroyed them, killed thousands, and it was all blamed on Muslims.

    The these same folks also gave us the 9/11 Commission Report, the lies that NIST published, and the refusal to ever have an independent investigation, are now pushing to put their F-35s in Burlington, as part of the empire’s war machinery. Jobs, right? Like never-ending wars are good for us.

    People have had enough of top-down, 1% control, and we are mad as hell. Stop lying to us.



    Timothy Price
    fairlee, vt

  • “For the first 20 minutes Sens. Sanders and Leahy, Rep. Welch, Gov. Shumlin and others issued statements declaring their unconditional support for the basing.”

    They are for almost anything that brings federal dollars into Vermont.
    The plane uses about 1.8 gallon of jet fuel/mile, or about 45 gallons per 25 miles. Each plane is the equivalent of 45 cars emitting pollutants and CO2.

    The United States is projected to spend an estimated $323 billion for development and procurement on the F-35 program, making it the most expensive defense program ever.The total lifecycle cost for the entire American fleet is estimated to be $1.51 trillion over its 50-year life, or $618 million per plane.

    Testifying before a Canadian parliamentary committee in 2011, Rear Admiral Arne Røksund of Norway estimated that his country’s 52 F-35 fighter jets will cost $769 million each over their operational lifetime.

    In November 2011, a Pentagon study team identified the following 13 areas of concern that remained to be addressed in the F-35

    The Helmet mounted display system does not work properly.
    The fuel dump subsystem poses a fire hazard.
    The Integrated Power Package is unreliable and difficult to service.
    The F-35C’s arresting hook does not work.
    Classified “survivability issues”, which have been speculated to be about stealth.
    The wing buffet is worse than previously reported.
    The airframe is unlikely to last through the required lifespan.
    The flight test program has yet to explore the most challenging areas.
    The software development is behind schedule.
    The aircraft is in danger of going overweight or, for the F-35B, too heavy for VTOL operations.
    There are multiple thermal management problems. The air conditioner fails to keep the pilot and controls cool enough, the roll posts on the F-35B overheat, and using the afterburner damages the aircraft.
    The automated logistics information system is partially developed.
    The lightning protection on the F-35 is uncertified, with areas of concern.


  • Anne,
    My comment disappeared.
    Please resurrect it

  • Alex Barnham
  • grace cleome

    The citizens of the areas that will be directly impacted by the noise of these bombers hold no power in the shadow of the desires of the politicians and military. As I see it, this is a done deal because the powers have decided it is so. Good luck to us all with the sound levels. I personally will not vote for any elected official who has supported the F-35s being based in Chittenden county.

  • Dave Heide

    Rendering our communities uninhabitable is exactly what Al-Queda wants. Why do their work for them? This boondoggle tears away the thin layer of a decent life that so many in Vermont have worked hard to maintain. We have local noise ordinances to insure peace and quiet. Are we so hypocritical that we can foresake them for the nebulous promise of a trickle-down boost to the economy? Keep the environment sacrosanct and the economy will take care of itself. If we do, people will want to live here rather than be forced to endure their day to day existence under a viscously loud panoply of self-aggrandisment.

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