The Air Force has whittled its list of potential Air National Guard bases that could host F-35A operations from 18 down to five.
In a Wednesday release, the Air Force said the remaining candidate bases are Dannelly Field Air Guard Station in Montgomery, Alabama; Gowen Field Air Guard Station in Boise, Idaho; Jacksonville Air Guard Station in Florida; Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Detroit; and Truax Air Guard Station in Madison, Wisconsin. Of those, two will be chosen sometime next year.
They will become the second and third Guard bases to host F-35As. The Air Force has already decided to base 18 F-35As at Burlington Air Guard Station in Vermont, home of the 158th Fighter Wing. On the active duty side, F-35As will also be based at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, and RAF Lakenheath in England.
"The Air Force is committed to a deliberate and open process to address F-35 basing," said Jennifer Miller, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, in the release. "As we progress through the basing process, we will share information so interested communities are aware of what to expect."
In a separate release, Brig. Gen. John Slocum, commander of the 127th Wing at Selfridge, said the base is excited to be a contender.
"Selfridge clearly represents the first, best choice to house the world's most advanced multi-role fighter," Slocum said. "Couple that with the proven war-fighting capability of our Michigan citizen-airmen — battle tested pilots, maintainers and support personnel — and Selfridge is the clear choice for this new mission."
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's office also released a statement, expressing his pride that Truax's 115th Fighter Wing is on the list.
"Truax Field in Madison and Volk Combat Readiness Training Center in Camp Douglas possess premier tactical training capabilities necessary for our nation's most advanced fighter jets to maintain mission readiness to serve the American people," said Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, in the statement. "We look forward to working with the Air Force as they move forward to make their final decision."
The previous review ranked bases according to their existing infrastructure, environmental concerns, training opportunities and cost factors.
The next step in the process will come as the Air Force conducts site surveys to determine how well each location can handle operational requirements, as well as how adding F-35As would affect existing missions, infrastructure and manpower. The Air Force will then develop cost estimates for each base.
The Air Force will choose its preferred bases and alternative sites in spring 2017, conduct an environmental impact analysis, and then make its final decision.
F-35As will start arriving at those guard bases in the early to mid-2020s, the release said.
Selfridge officials said that, if the base is selected, it would start receiving F-35As in 2022. They would replace the A-10 Warthog there.
Stephen Losey covers Air Force leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times.