Business & Economy

First F-35s scheduled to arrive Thursday

One of four F-35 fighter jets parked at the Vermont Air National Guard base at the Burlington International Airport in South Burlington in May. The planes had to make an unscheduled stop. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

BURLINGTON — The first two F-35s that will be based in Burlington will arrive Thursday, the Vermont Air National Guard announced. 

Vermont Air National Guard pilots will be flying the jets to Burlington from Fort Worth, Texas, and are set to arrive Thursday, but the Guard said the exact time of their arrival was still to be determined. The Guard said the arrival could be delayed until Friday but they were aiming for a Thursday landing.

The F-35s will replace the F-16 fighter jets the Guard had flown previously.

The arrival of the jets has been controversial with significant opposition from locals concerned about the noise of the jets and other issues.

Many more households, primarily in Williston and Winooski, will have average noise levels higher than 65 decibels, according to a noise map released by the airport in May. The total number of people and households with noise levels “unsuitable for residential use” will triple, according to the noise map. 

Anti-basing activists have mobilized with increased intensity in recent weeks. Over 100 people protested the basing in Burlington earlier this month, and six people were arrested last week during protests at the Burlington office of U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, who used his influence to pressure the Air Force to base the fighter jets at the Burlington airport. Two protesters, both retired Air Force officers, will be arraigned in court Thursday morning on trespassing charges.

The Vermont Air National Guard will be the first Guard unit in the country to house F-35s, which have over 205,000 flight hours. There have been more than 420 aircraft delivered to 12 different countries at 19 different bases worldwide.

Col. David Smith, the commander of the 158th Fighter Wing, said in the press release that the pilots were looking forward to flying the jets to Burlington. 

“This is such an exciting time for the 158th Fighter Wing, and we are looking forward to sharing it with the community,” Smith said. “We have all worked very hard to prepare for this moment, and I assure you our airmen are ready.”

Brig. Gen. Greg Knight, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, said the arrival of the jets was “a long time coming.”  

Kinght added: “The outstanding legacy of the Vermont Air National Guard is on full display, and we couldn’t be prouder of our Airmen.”

Related: On this week’s Deeper Dig podcast, reporter Jasper Craven discusses why last year’s local resolutions opposing the F-35 haven’t led the military to change course.

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Scott Yaros

America’s competitors are deterred.

Douglas Myers

Can’t wait to see these F35’s come into the airport. The F35’s are awesome and the most technically advanced fighter planes on the planet. I for one am excited for their arrival.

Tony DeBlasio

Eliminate the state appropriation for the national guard and these blights could be gone in a few months.

Eileen A Andreoli

A Vermont Guard member once told me, “I oppose the F35s coming to Vermont. I love Vermont, and it will no longer be Vermont if they come here.”

Thousands of Vermonters feel the same way.

Attention USAF Secretary: We will not surrender our beautiful environment, homes, children’s health or communities to this monstrosity. We will not stop fighting this F35 atrocity and horrifically corrupted basing decision until they are gone from our skies.

Linus Leavens

The F35-A is a stealth first strike attack bomber. It is not a defensive weapon, so…reconfigure your argument. “The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather, stealth, fifth-generation, multirole combat aircraft, designed for ground-attack and air-superiority missions.” meanwhile, buried in the Vermont Constitution, “as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.” Stand down.

Davito Martino

me gusta el sonido de la libertad

sandra bettis

Why does the minority get to decide on questions like this?

Michael J. Hall

Welcome to Vermont, F-35’s! Hopefully when all 22 are in service, they will have a MITO exercise! I remember FB-111/KC-135 MITO’s while stationed at PAFB! Wonderful sight to see!

Kenny Keith

One of the few things VT can be truly proud of. What an honor the for VT ANG to host these fighters. Strength is what keeps us free.

Jenny Kingsbury

Congratulations to our Green Mountain Boys! I’m looking forward to seeing them fly over our house.

Glenn W Thompson

The case is closed. The F-35s are here. If the Anti-F35 crowd wishes to continue to fight this, I’m sure some lawyer will be happy to take their money to fight a lost cause.

Hale Irwin

What the Air Force needs are light close air support aircraft like the A-29. The aging A-10 s need help supporting ground troops danger close. The A-29 would be a smart buy and it would be an ideal aircraft to be based in the center of a city like BTV.

william Farr

…A robust congratulations to our Green Mountain Boys! The protesting & arrested retired Air Force Official wearing the Air Force uniform, remove it & protest till your hearts content, otherwise military discipline should apply with a loss of pension benefits being the stern warning making things perfectly clear.
Thank you & have a nice day… :~)

J.T. OBrien

Just watched the F35s land in BTV for the first time. Finally!!!!Really enjoyed the sound of freedom.

Todd R. Lockwood

Vermont Air National Guard has won national awards for aircraft maintenance and ground support, and this probably had something to do with VTANG being chosen to host the F-35. Clearly, this is an organization that attracts high quality recruits, and we should be proud of them.

At the Federal level, however, the F-35 program is the costliest defense program ever launched. Each F-35 currently costs taxpayers between $94 million (F-35A) and $122 million (F-35B), though sustainment cost projections are as big a concern as production costs for a program that is expected to cost $1.5 trillion over its 55-year lifespan. It’s projected to consume over one-third of the Pentagon budget over the next 30 years, all for one weapon system. That’s very risky, especially for an aircraft with inherent design compromises due to its shared platform. The F-35’s primary asset is stealth, but even that feature turns out to be less than advertised. Lockheed Martin sold Congress a bill of goods.


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