I was pleased to partner with Fairbanks area legislators, Mayor Hopkins, the TIGER Team, and enthusiastic Alaskans to keep the F-16s in Fairbanks. Our hard work was rewarded and the F-16s will stay where they belong. Our next challenge is to create the same level of support for the F-35s.
As you may know, the Air Force has selected Eielson as one of five candidate locations in the Pacific to serve as home to the F-35, the next generation fighter jet. I've met with the Air Force brass several times to remind them of Alaska's strategic geographic position in the Pacific Rim and our unrivaled training environment and ample airspace.
Over the next two months, the Air Force will narrow the list to 3 bases and survey the finalists, collect and analyze data, and report their conclusions. I expect Eielson to remain on the short list as they further narrow their choices. I will send you updates when we learn more in the May/June timeframe.
Mayor Hopkin's Tiger Team, which helped save the F-16s, is now intensely focused on attracting the F-35 along with the Congressional Delegation.
To show the Air Force the Fairbanks community is behind getting the F-35 being stationed at Eielson, the Tiger Team asks you register your support at www.alaskaf35s.com. You can also download a badge there to share on Facebook or display on your own webpage.
I believe a new mission for Eielson will strengthen our national defense and the Interior economy by bringing new jobs, thousands of additional military members and their families, and millions of dollars in new revenue.