The Air National Guard’s next two F-35A squadrons will likely be based at Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin and Dannelly Field in Alabama.
The Air Force announced its preferred Guard F-35 locations in a Thursday release.
“Selecting Truax Field and Dannelly Field will increase Air National Guard F-35A units providing 5th-generation airpower around the world,” Air Force Sec. Heather Wilson said in the release. “As F-35As arrive at these locations, we will use the existing aircraft at these fields to replace the aging F-16s at other Air National Guard units.”
The first F-35s are expected to arrive at Truax in early 2023, and Dannelly will get its first F-35s later that year.
“Putting F-35s at these two Air National Guard bases continues our transition into the next generation of air superiority,” Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein said in the release. “It helps ensure we can always offer the commander-in-chief air power options and be ready to penetrate any enemy air defenses, hold any target at risk and go when and where the president tells us to go.”
Wilson will finalize the choice of those two bases after the service finishes its required environmental analysis. Gowen Field Air National Guard Base in Idaho, Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan, and Jacksonville Air Guard Station in Florida were also considered, but ultimately not chosen.
The Air Force expects to keep flying a mixture of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters into the 2040s. This will allow it to keep enough fighters to meet combatant commander requirements, provide enough training, and maintain a reasonable deployment tempo. But F-35As will eventually replace many fourth-generation fighters such as F-16s.
The Air Force has previously chosen Hill Air Force Base in Utah, RAF Lakenheath in England, Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, and Burlington Air Guard Station in Vermont as other F-35A bases. And the service chose Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, as its preference for the first Air Force Reserve F-35A base.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.