F-35 JSF May Bring Bucks For Bases, Towns, States

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The $300 billion program that is the nation's coming fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters has military towns across the country vying for the economic boon of base modernization and infrastructure that will arrive wherever squadrons nest. The U.S. Air Force is considering sites in Vermont, Utah, Florida, Idaho and South Carolina for operating bases; and Florida, Idaho, New Mexico and Arizona for training, according to Reuters. But the selection process now moves to formal environmental impact analysis and the communities' opportunities to provide input. First-round decisions already have senators seeking to cement favor or reconsideration for their states. An Air Force spokesman told Reuters Thursday that it's too early to determine how much money might be spent to prepare sites to accommodate the aircraft.

Early contenders were chosen for their "airspace, flight training ranges, weather, support facilities, runways, taxi ramps and environmental concerns," according to Reuters. Further consideration includes aircraft retirements integration with personnel and equipment already on hand, logistical support and aircraft delivery schedules. Final decisions aren't expected until 2011. The F-35 is now in early production.