The New Jersey congressional delegation is calling out the Air Force for removing Atlantic City from its list of possible bases for the F-35, saying the move didn’t consider existing capabilities of the current home of the 177th Fighter Wing. In a letter led by GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo, the delegation wrote the decision to remove Atlantic City Air National Guard Base doesn’t reflect the low cost of the base, its strategic location, the fact that F-16s currently assigned to the base regularly support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while also flying NORAD alert missions. The Air Force announced earlier this month it had whittled down its list of potential Air National Guard F-35A bases to Dannelly Field AGS, Ala.; Gowen Field AGS, Idaho; Jacksonville AGS, Fla.; Selfridge ANGB, Mich.; and Truax AGS, Wisc. The service expects a final decision in 2017, with aircraft arriving in the mid-2020s.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.