South Burlington likely to join F-35 lawsuit

SOUTH BURLINGTON — The city is poised to join a lawsuit that seeks to block the arrival of F-35 fighter jets to be based at Burlington International Airport until the U.S. Air Force completes environmental reviews that the plaintiffs argue were not done properly.

The lawsuit, being brought in U.S. District Court, could yield more information on noise mitigation and safety issues that South Burlington has been unable to obtain through other means, according to city councilors who support joining the suit.

The current plaintiffs are the Stop the F-35 Coalition, six Chittenden County residents and the city of Winooski, which joined the suit last year after voters passed a nonbinding ballot referendum on the issue.

The South Burlington City Council voted Monday to continue discussing the matter, and a vote on a resolution to join the suit is expected next Monday.

Councilors Pat Nowak and Thomas Chittenden said at the meeting that they would like to find a way to get more information that doesn’t involve litigation. However, the city has to act quickly if it wants to join the suit, according to Helen Riehle, the chair of the city council. An important hearing is set for July 5.

There are enough votes on the five-member council to pass the resolution over Chittenden and Nowak’s objections, Riehle said, but waiting a week will give them an opportunity to present alternatives.

Riehle said she’s open to other options but the Air Force has not addressed the city’s concerns about the environmental and safety impacts of the F-35s, which are expected to arrive at the airport in South Burlington in the fall of 2019.

A revised environmental impact statement from the Pentagon left many unanswered questions, Riehle said, including how the town should develop an emergency preparedness plan for first responders in the event of an F-35 crash.

“Do we need an evacuation plan if there’s a crash?” Riehle asked, noting that hazardous materials are used in the F-35.

Questions remain about noise mitigation too, she said. The Air Force has said the Federal Aviation Administration will provide grants to mitigate noise from the airport as a whole, but Riehle said the city is unsure if those measures will be enough to address noise from the new fighter jets.

The council has discussed several options with the city’s attorney, Riehle said. Those include filing a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the plaintiffs, joining the suit as a plaintiff or even filing the city’s own lawsuit, Riehle said.

Simply filing a supporting brief would cost an estimated $7,500 and would not give South Burlington legal standing in the case. Joining the current suit would cost an estimated $13,000 and allow the city to be party to appeals.

Filing a separate lawsuit could cost as much as $45,000, Riehle said, and she doesn’t think that’s necessary, because a new suit might not be resolved prior to the F-35’s arrival.

Morgan True

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  • The F-35 program will cripple our fighting force over the next decade if we continue on with believing that this can be saved. Don’t believe? fine! Who am I?
    Well let me break it down crayola style for anyone willing to read!

    A. Su Bin is a Chinese hacker who was able to steal an unknown amount of data on the F-22 and F-35 (presumably all schematics from 2008-2014) for the Chinese government and is currently serving five years in prison.

    B. The common components of this plane are only at around 20% yet they still have the audacity to call this a joint fighter even though it is closer to three separate aircraft.

    C. Under powered and under fueled to accomplish the mission for the Marine corps. Which brings us to the F-35B variant. Why do the Marines even need this sophisticated piece of equipment? Would you bring a Ferrari to Johnson mud bog? Sure! If the taxpayers are paying for it. The answer is they don’t! and would be so much better off with the enormousness amount of attack helicopters that the money could buy.

    D. $1.5 trillion dollars for a single weapon system is lunacy, and thats before you realize that it fails to replace either the A-10 or the F-16. Bean’s and bullets are going to be hard to come by if this plane needs as much system maintenance as the reality that has been set in motion.

    E. The entire stealth premise is rendered almost useless with Chinese and Russia low frequency radar using UAVs.

    I’m getting sick of writing and you prob read so heres is the end of the list of problems and Im sure you get the point.

    Angle of attack ( maybe this is a positive) but considering the flight control problems with this who knows what is true and what is propaganda.

    Lightning protection failure…great more software and hardware will fix it (hopefully)

    Helmet display problems to say the least….fixed????? Throw enough money at it, did we? Just don’t try to turn your head.

    Unreliable components due to absurd pork barrel logistics
    The ALIS is the brain and it is uuuuuuuhhhhhhh cannot compute, please reload.

    Meanwhile the A-10 will gladly be taken by the Army.

    • One needs to look no further than the Chinese Shenyang-J-31 to see that corporate and industrial espionage is fully operational. The J-31 might as well be the F-35D.

      • Even the stolen design J-31 has been getting bad reviews. Look familiar?

  • Robert Spottswood

    This seems like such a no-brainer for any community. On the one occasion I visited Burlington last year, a military jet took off. The noise level blocked all our outdoor conversations for half a minute. It was not just ear-splitting, it was mind-numbing.
    Burlington is talking about a huge downtown renovation. Whether or not to allow head-cracking noise levels near such a large vibrant community seems to me to be no question.

    • These engine for the F-35 are the most powerful ever built (Pratt and Whittney F135 generates F-35B=43,000 pounds of thrust F35A=41k) and need to be for this overweight cash cow. Two times as loud as a F-15 and close to 4 times as loud as the F-16. (Every ten decibels doubles the perceived loudness.) Sure they say this will be dropped as production increases, but how much?

      I am all for us developing the next gen fighter……but this isn’t the one for so many reasons. Great job POTUS for canning the wrong plane.

    • edward letourneau

      …they had to shut up for 30 seconds. — I’m sorry but you ought to be thanking the people who serve the Nation so you have the freedom to talk.

  • sandra bettis

    The noise level in a very wide area around the airport is already intolerable with the F16’s – can’t even imagine what it would be like with the F35’s.

    • Bill Fox

      Intolerable, hardly, its the sound of your freedom

      • When the entire DoD budget is gobbled up by this corporate R&D noise maker, let us know how that freedom thing is working out. Our soldiers, airmen and sailors deserve better.

      • Tiki Archambeau

        Show us a single real estate listing bragging about proximity to the “sound of freedom”. If you like it so much, buy the CD and leave the rest of us to try to get some work done without cupping our ears every two hours.

  • Jan van Eck

    Correspondent Sean Joyce (above) is perfectly correct in observing that this aircraft is, at $1.5 trillion, a “weapons system” that is unpayable – except for gutting the military, or alternatively setting in motion inflationary pressures in the greater society. Nobody has the dough for this machinery.

    Correspondent Sandra Bettis is perfectly correct in observing that the aircraft is incompatible with the community and the airport. Keep in mind that the aircraft is designed as a kill machine; thus it is fitted with explosive ordnance. Crash that thing on takeoff and expect substantial casualties. Crash it into a school and the bloom goes off stationing this hardware locally.

    Further, there is no Border here to defend – unless you postulate that the Canadians are dangerous people, to be met with lethal munitions. I do not take that view (I take the view that the border should be abolished, as say between Holland and Belgium, but I do not anticipate the inherent logic of that idea to be embraced in Washington any time soon, realpolitik having been chucked out the window a very long time ago). If you insist on having harmed fighter jets, then where to put it? Well, Brunswick (Maine) Naval Air Station looks promising. At least it is on a border (with Greenland, another dangerous part of the globe).

    But let’s get real here. The trend in military air is to small, remote-control drones. These big heavy attack aircraft only serve to feed the egos of the pilot crowd (and the manufacturers). Do you really want to spend all your dough to feed the appetites of the Lockheed Martin Corporation? Another gargantuan mega-corporation with its grotesquely overpaid executives and recycled generals sucking the Treasury dry with colossal military contracts for useless, unworkable hardware? Hey, that is what they did in the old Soviet Union; look where that ended up.

  • timothy price

    Just as with EB-5, the F-35 is one more fraud perpetrated by Senator Leahy… the professional politician now running for his 8th term. As the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he is also promoting the appointment of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. We know that this judge was responsible for covering up the false-flag that was the Oklahoma City bombing. “Oklahoma City Bombing Federal Surveillance Tapes Coverup”
    How much more evidence do people need to vote this Senator out of office?

  • Steve Beck

    I was at BTV earlier this week, parked at that stupid cell-phone lot waiting for the person I was meeting to claim his baggage and call me. Two of them took off as
    I stood there; I could not believe what I heard and felt . I thought to myself after I could think again that I should get involved with the group that is fighting the thing.

    • Glenn Thompson

      The Air National Guard has been operating out of Burlington since the early 50’s.

      The old F4-D Phantom aircraft was much noisier than the current F-16. From the period in the 50’s up to now, vast areas of open space surrounding the airport has been filled in with residential and commercial development.

      What is your solution? Recommend the VT. ANG to relocate somewhere’s else?

      • Tiki Archambeau

        VTANG only started using afterburners on the F16 in 2008. Prior to then, they were respectful neighbors.

        Here’s a crazy idea: Don’t use afterburners. It’s not like Chittenden County snuck up and got big in 2008.

        Funny how we can put 5 & 6-year-olds in huge classes with excuses that we can’t afford it, but dare question the most expensive weapons program in history and the excuses fly more sorties than the F16s.

  • Patrice Lopatin

    And while you are at it, get rid of the loud tankers modifying the climate and showering us with metallic oxide poisons, wiping out our memories, causing neurological disorders cardiac and respiratory failure as well as cancers. It is an epidemic here in VT. The trees are dying as well. LOOK UP!

  • Tiki Archambeau

    Good for you, South Burlington! The pursuit of peace and tranquility is never a failed effort.

  • Diane Gayer

    This is one more example of being held hostage by big business disguised as jobs and security. The research and testimonies that were done by citizens in Burlington, Winooski, and South Burlington continue to be ignored. As the other comments confirm this is a major financial malfeasance being perpetrated by our elected officials. Please note that Burlington was the only populated area in the site selections and this was due to heavy lobbying by Sen. Leahy to keep it in the mix–all the other sites were rural areas. Perhaps there this was for a reason!

  • Jan van Eck

    For those of you that think that nothing can ever go wrong with highly complex fighter aircraft, I invite you to review the 2008 crash of an F/A-18D-30-MC Hornet, which developed engine thrust problems 60 miles out, and in a series of blunders was directed to a runway in San Diego; the pilot just managed to get over the roof of the High School (this at 11:15 a.m.) thus avoiding killing thousands, instead crashing into several homes, killing mom, 15-month-old baby daughter, 2-month-old infant, and grandma – basically, wiping out a man’s entire family.

    The investigative report “… was generally scathing in its criticism of the conduct of the participants including: the pilot, the commander of the squadron involved, its top maintenance officer, operations officer, and operations duty officer, all of whom were relieved of duty as a result of the investigation.” Now, that does not exactly inspire much confidence.

    There is no rational reason for the Vermont Air National Guard to be flying anything other than helicopters and propeller planes. 2,000-mph jets? What on earth for?

    Besides, nobody has any money for that folly. Forget about it.

  • Seeing how your governor tells you that there isn’t much difference between the F35 and F16 noise….Why don’t you hear for yourself!

  • Roz Slater

    The USAF left many unanswered questions on the table. Their mitigation plan nonexistent. Cover your ears or move. Sadly, VTANG Lt Caputo in media promising F35A will have 750,000 flt hours when it arrives (a year earlier now than AF t Well according to .

  • James Marc Leas

    The Air Force EIS says the the F-35 is expected to have a crash rate like the F-22 which has a huge crash rate – much higher than the F-16.

    The numbers given in the EIS for the expected crash rate of the F-35 indicates that we can expect an F-35 crash in Burlington, on average, every 3 years.

    The National Environmental Policy Act requires the EIS to provide the decision maker and the public with adverse consequences. What happens to people, property, and environment when an F-35 crashes compared to when an F-16 crashes at each of the 3 locations must be in the EIS so the public and the Air Force decision makers have this information in front of them when they make the decision.

    The consequences of a crash include:

    ∙ thousands of pounds of jet fuel burning: same for F-16 and F-35

    ∙ For both the F-35 and the F-16 people and animals in the immediate vicinity of the crash killed or injured by the crash and the fire, and private and/or public property destroyed

    ∙ For the F-35, thousands of pounds of composite material and stealth coating burning in the fire started by those thousands of pounds of jet fuel. The F-16 body is 98% metal. The F-35 body is 42% composite material with a stealth coating, both of which emit toxic chemicals and particulates when they burn.

    ∙ For the F-35, people and animals in residential neighborhoods downwind of the crash site exposed to air laden with toxic chemicals and toxic particulates from the burning of the composite material and the stealth coating.

    ∙ For the F-35 large area evacuation

    ∙ long term loss of use of property

    Immediate crash consequences vary sharply depending on where the F-35 crashes. Of the 3 sites Burlington is the only one where the airport is surrounded by residential neighborhoods. The other two sites, McEntire and Jacksonville, have large unpopulated areas adjacent the airport.

    The lawsuit asks the court to require the Air Force to issue a supplemental EIS that includes information about crash consequences. And to make the decision again in view of those consequences.

    The Air Force decision to base F-35 jets in Burlington without consideration of crash consequences for F-16 and F-35 jets at the 3 locations was a pure Flint Michigan method of decision making.

    • The F-35 in stealth can carry the same inside what the F-16 can carry altogether. Without stealth, using hard points this fighter can carry 18,000 lbs in munitions total. That is impressive, and so is this plane! We just can’t afford it. Unfortunately for the Air Force, the Marine corp is fixed on the vertical takeoff, because the F-35A as a stand alone would have been a winner with the usual cost overruns but nonetheless.

    • The other factor would be whether the F35A will be equipped with B61 tactical nukes in the future like the F35c has been talked about possessing.

  • timothy price

    We’ll occupy the streets, we’ll occupy the courts, we’ll occupy the offices of you, til you do, the bidding of the many, not the few” Makana, We are the Many.

    The globalists, read Hillary, Senator Leahy, Welch, Obama, and the usual suspects, will bankrupt the USA while continuing to militarize our economy to arm their corporate patrons against anyone who would defend themselves from the Communist takeover of America.
    However, the citizens of the Constitutional United States are rebelling. Interesting times ahead.
    Neil Keenan Update: The Challenge To Uncover Your Corporate Identity – June 9, 2016
    We are learning.

  • Roz Slater

    As I said Lt Caputo tells public in Free Press the F35A will have 750,000 flight hrs when it arrives in 2020. (safe) But it was announced it is coming 1 year earlier 2019. The other Caputo argument-Pilots are experienced- (safe) That’s what was thought of the pilots in 2 military planes that crashed in 1 day last week. This craft grounded so much for safety issues the AF Eielson EIS published as of January 2016 says it F35 A has only 9000 flight hrs AND 1 class A mishap!!! Scary.
    Section 4.5.2 Eielson EIS Proposed Action Alternative Base
    look under Aircraft Mishaps category of this section
    ………Since they were operational to January 2015, F-16s had a Class A mishap rate of 3.49 and F-15s a rate of 2.36 for every 100,000 hours flown. As of January 2016, all three F-35 variants have flown a combined 23,000 hours; the F-35A has flown over 9,000 hours with one Class A mishap (an engine fire). unquote
    What’s the damn rush? Forty clergy appealed for answers, Winooski needed answers. even S Burlington concerns went unanswered. Joining the suit for answers, the only responsible alternative for what is to be a 50-70 year committment.

  • Jeremy Baker

    Bulldoze an earthen buffer around the runway, about two/three stories (higher the better), plant cedar and pine, shape it at an ideal angle, and get the planes in the air to a height before pushing the engines.

    • Jan van Eck

      The Pentagon could also simply bail out of the contract with Lockheed Martin. Save yourself one and a half trillion. Then you can leave that runway alone; sounds a lot cheaper to me.

      • This isn’t entirely true. We have already spent something like $400 billion on this and canceling it will leave us without a fighter for the future 50 years? They say 70….sure. so one would have to be designed which is probably our best bet at this point coupled with restarting the F22.

  • I’ve been reading a whole lot of stories that speak of drones being the actual aircraft for modern air forces. The F35 is already obsolete.

  • Gilbert W. Chapman

    Unless I am mistaken, the airport was built long before most of the surrounding houses . . . If you don’t like it, ‘Move’.

  • Michael Sakash

    If China already has the plane, whether or not it is our plans, lets just buy it from them and save money.

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