A Vermont-based activist group is suing the Air Force over its December 2013 decision to base the first batch of F-35As at the Burlington International Airport, reported the Washington Times. The group claims the decision violates the Air Force’s own environmental impact findings as well as the National Environmental Policy Act, and seeks to reopen the site evaluation process. Opponents of the basing decision, under the umbrella of the “Stop the F-35 Coalition,” say the fighter’s noise footprint is too loud to operate in the Burlington area, and that the decision negatively impacts local urban planning. The group also has raised concerns about the toxicity of the F-35s stealth coatings, and the environmental impacts of such coatings in the aftermath of an accident or mishap. The Vermont Air National Guard is slated to operate the F-35s, which are set to arrive in 2020.
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.