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Selfridge misses out on F-35s again

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published April 16, 2020 | Updated April 16, 2020 11:31am

 File photo

File photo

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — After months of anticipation that F-35s could be brought to Macomb County, an official decision was recently announced.

For the second time in three years, Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township was passed over to house the aircraft.

On April 15, the Department of the Air Force selected Truax Field in Madison, Wisconsin and Dannelly Field in Montgomery, Alabama for the next two Air National Guard F-35A Lightning II locations.

The two selected sites — 115th Fighter Wing in Wisconsin and 187th Fighter Wing in Alabama — were previously identified as preferred alternatives. Five locations, including Selfridge, were up for consideration.   

“Sadly, Selfridge Air National Guard Base was not selected as one of those locations,” Brig. Gen. Rolf Mammen, 127th Wing Commander stated in a release. “However, the base is well postured for future rounds of consideration for F-35 basing.”

In a statement, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner and former member of Congress Candice Miller said she was disappointed with the news.

“For those of us who personally know the airmen, the base and the leadership team in place at Selfridge, we are confident that the base is well positioned to be selected for the next round of F-35 basing or other critical future missions,” she said.  

During her tenure in Congress, Miller’s district included Selfridge.  

If the 127th Wing at Selfridge would've been selected, the F-35A would’ve replaced the Air National Guard’s F-15, F-16 and A-10 fighter attack aircraft with 18 assigned aircraft and two backup aircraft.

An April 15 Air Force press release states F-35As will begin to replace many of the older fourth-generation aircraft.

“The Department of the Air Force selected the 115th Fighter Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing as the next Air National Guard locations to receive the F-35A,” Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett said. “Putting F-35s at these two bases continues our transition into the next generation of air superiority.”

There was an increased level of hope that F-35s would be at Selfridge when in January at an appearance in Warren, President Donald Trump said strong consideration was given toward deploying F-35s at the Macomb County base.

The Air Force expects the F-35As to begin arriving at Truax and Dannelly fields in 2023.

“I am convinced that it is the citizen-airmen of the 127th Wing and the Michigan Air National Guard, along with our outstanding community support, that will keep Selfridge competitive when the next round of F-35 basing opportunities are presented,” Mammen said. “We have been in the fighter business for decades and will continue to be as we focus on the future and our next 100 years.”

This is not Selfridge’s last opportunity to transition to the F-35, there will be additional rounds of F-35 basing in the future. While F-35's will eventually replace many fourth generation aircraft, there is a continued need to fly a mix of aircraft into the 2040s.