Selfridge passed over for F-35

Air Force selects bases in Wisconsin, Alabama for new fighter jet

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published December 22, 2017

 Selfridge Air National Guard in Harrison Township was passed up by the U.S. Air Force as host of a fleet of F-35As, though state and local officials remains optimistic for future rounds.  A rendering of the F-35A fighter jet was released during a February press event during which Selfridge and county officials announced an advocacy campaign to get a fleet at the Harrison Township base.

Selfridge Air National Guard in Harrison Township was passed up by the U.S. Air Force as host of a fleet of F-35As, though state and local officials remains optimistic for future rounds. A rendering of the F-35A fighter jet was released during a February press event during which Selfridge and county officials announced an advocacy campaign to get a fleet at the Harrison Township base.

File photo by Deb Jacques

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Selfridge Air National Guard Base was not selected to house the F-35A fighter jet, the Air Force announced Dec. 21.

Selfridge was among five national guard bases being considered for hosting, maintaining and training the F-35As. They would have eventually replaced a fleet of A-10s at the Harrison Township base.

The Air Force has instead selected Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin and Dannelly Field in Alabama for the F-35A, according to an Air Force statement.

“Selecting Truax Field and Dannelly Field will increase Air National Guard F-35A units providing fifth-generation airpower around the world,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson in the statement. “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.”

F-35As will eventually replace many of the fourth-generation Air Force aircraft. However, the Air Force will continue to fly a mix of fifth- and fourth-generation fighters into the 2040s, in order to maintain enough fighters to meet combatant commander requirements, provide required training and allow a reasonable deployment tempo for the force, the statement reads.

The Air Force expects the F-35As to begin arriving at Truax Field in early 2023 and at Dannelly Field later that year.

These locations remain preferred alternatives until the secretary of the Air Force makes the final basing decisions after the requisite environmental analysis is complete, the statement continues.

The Air Force also evaluated Gowen Field ANGB in Idaho and Jacksonville Air Guard Station in Florida in this round of decisions. Those bases, as well as Selfridge, were reasonable alternatives, but not preferred, according to the statement.

“Although we are disappointed Selfridge was not selected to house the F-35 fighter jet, we are confident our hometown air base will be part of future fighter missions,” Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said in a statement after the announcement. “It is a source of pride that Selfridge was one of only five bases in the country to be considered for such a deployment, and the tremendous amount of community engagement generated from this campaign has provided us with a core group of partners willing to support the base’s next 100 years of service.”  

Air Force officials evaluated and completed a ground survey at Selfridge in July. The base, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017, is equipped to hold 24 F-35As.

Brig. Gen. John Slocum, commander of the 127th Wing at Selfridge, said operations related to the A-10 Thunderbolt II will continue at Selfridge well into the 2030s. The base’s fleet of 18 jets supports 180 full-time jobs and nearly 450 part-time jobs.

He said Selfridge remains a strong contender for future conversion to the F-35A.

“Selfridge remains a viable base, and we’re confident in our future and what’s to come,” Slocum said.