Air Force F-35 fighter, scheduled to replace the Vermont Air National Guard's F-16s
The controversial F-35 fighter jets will arrive in Burlington in 2019, one year ahead of schedule, the U.S. Air Force announced Monday.
“The Air Force is facing a shortage of experienced, active-duty fighter aircraft maintainers as we transition from legacy aircraft to the F-35A,” said Lt. Gen. John Cooper, the deputy chief of staff of the Air Force for logistics, engineering and force protection, in a statement released Monday. “Adjusting the initial plan and slightly accelerating F-35A arrivals at Burlington Air Guard Station ... to fall 2019 will allow the service to stick to the overall F-35 rollout schedule, while capitalizing on the Air National Guard’s experienced fighter aircraft maintenance force as we put additional measures in place to increase the number of trained active-duty maintainers.”
The Vermont Air National Guard, based at Burlington International Airport, was the first reserve unit in the country scheduled to receive the next-generation fighter jets, despite vocal opposition from environmentalists and local residents concerned about noise.