We are pleased to announce that Burlington Representatives and Chittenden County Senators, have signed a group letter urging Burlington voters to vote “Yes” on ballot question #6 regarding the F35s. The letter follows:
To whom it may concern,
We stand together in favor of Burlington’s ballot question #6 to oppose the basing of the F-35s at the Vermont Air National Guard. The issues are as follows:
1. Noise/Housing: The F-35 is over four times louder than the current F-16, which will put over 6,600 people’s home in a high decibel noise zone that the Federal Government classifies as unsuitable for residential use.1
2. Crash rate: The planes are still new and as such have an eight times higher crash rate than the F-16s. Typically the Air Force chooses a remote base for the new military aircraft. With 1,400 homes in the crash zone, we cannot take this risk. The current runway aims directly at the largest shopping area in Vermont with two dozen big box stores one mile away in Williston. This is not an abstract issue. In 1965, a military jet crashed in Williston. Fortunately, the area was an open field at the time so the casualties were limited to the two people on board.2
3. Jobs/Air Guard base closure: The Air Force has repeatedly stated that there were any number of other military aircraft for the VT Air Guard to fly if the F-35 did not come here. They would simply get another flying mission, as they have in the past. They could fly another fighter aircraft, or a military transport, or drones, or perform cyber security missions. And the jobs could increase. For example, the C-130 is a possibility and it needs three to five crew members per flight as opposed to one sole pilot for the F-35.3
4. Timeline: We know that it is not too late to take a stand and change the trajectory of this decision. Basing decisions have been reversed because of public outcry, congressional action, or legal action in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Alaska.4
We urge you to vote yes to ballot question #6 to oppose the local basing of the F-35s. Thank you for joining this growing movement for a safer, quieter, mission.
Sincerely,Senator Philip BaruthSenator Chris PearsonRepresentative Brian CinaRepresentative Diana GonzalezRepresentative Mary SullivanRepresentative Selene ColburnRepresentative Curt McCormack
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Studies show that children exposed to this noise level have significant increases in blood pressure, significant increases in stress hormones, and cognitive impairment.
The Air Force said F35s will be 21 to 25 decibels louder than F16 during takeoff and arrival (EIS, NS-40). Every 10 dB increase is perceived as a doubling of the noise (EIS, C-2). 21 to 25 dB increase means F35 is OVER 4 times louder
Air Force said while F35 flight ops might be less than the F16, this would be offset by the dramatic increase of the F35 noise over the F16 (EIS, BR4-25)
Properties within the 65 dB DNL may not be eligible for federally guaranteed loans, program assistance, subsidy, or insurance Should they try to sell their homes. (EIS, C-49).
2. Crash rate
The Air Force revised Environmental Impact Statement says they anticipate the F-35 crash rate will be like that experienced by the F-22 during its first years of operational basing. During the first two years of F-22 squadron operations, a table in the EIS states that the accident rate was 869.57 major accidents per hundred thousand flight hours (page BR4-49). That crash rate declined to 59.51 during the first four years of squadron operations and to 40.66 during the first five years. The crash rate fell to 7.34 when averaged over the first 12 years ending in 2012. That lifetime crash rate for the F-22 was double the lifetime crash rate for the F-16 which the EIS gives as 3.68.
On March 4, 1965, a Vermont National Guard F-89J Scorpion jet was approaching Burlington Airport when an onboard fire broke out. The aircraft went down about three miles from the airport in the town of Williston, in an area known as Taft Corners, barely missing some trailer homes. Nether the pilot or the radar observer survived. From New England Aviation History.
3. Jobs/Air Guard base closure
The Air Force said VT guard would always have a flying mission regardless of the F35 basing decision (Environmental Impact Statement, PA-47 and federal court case 5:14-cv-132, p59). Fire and rescue services will continue regardless of the mission.
No jobs are at risk since the Air Force guaranteed our Guard will continue to have a flying mission. (EIS, 2-29). MG Dubie said maintainer jobs would be LOST if F35 comes here. (So Burlington City Council Public hearing April 19, 2010).
Getting transport aircraft will triple the number of current Guard jobs (USAF C-130 fact sheet).
The Air Force states in court documents, “Had the F-35A not been selected to replace the F-16s, there could have been ‘any number’ of reasonable alternatives available to the Air Force on how to configure Burlington.” Federal court records (Civil Action No. 5:14-cv-132, Defendant’s Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion), March 7, 2016, page 60.
Recently other Air Guard bases have switched from fighter aircraft to other missions. The Great Falls Air Guard Base in Montana changed aircraft from F-15 fighter aircraft to C-130 transport aircraft in 2016: “120th Airlift Wing Prepares to Deploy,” Jenn Rowell, Great Falls Tribune, October 1, 2016. The New Mexico Air National Guard changed from a fighter mission to training aircrews in special operations and personnel recovery in 2013:“150 Fighter Wing becomes 150th Special Operations Wing,” NM National Guard Public Affairs, December 4, 2013.
The Air Force reports that demand for mobility aircraft (transports, cargo and refueling aircraft) is increasing. From “Air Mobility: A clear need for future environments,” Col Chris Karns, Air Force Times, January 21, 2018:
- The demand for mobility aircraft, which includes transport aircraft, is trending upwards. Without it, a team doesn’t move.
- Deliver critical equipment and supplies to forces stateside and overseas
- Transports deliver powerful humanitarian and diplomatic effects
- During the 2017 hurricane season, transports delivered 28 million pounds of supplies to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria
- Transports delivered critical supplies and expertise to Mexico, Peru and Argentina
- Air Force transports help others and enhance U. S. global reputation and build trust
Eglin AFB, FL F-35A basing decision was changed after a lawsuit was filed.
- F-35 flying operations were significantly reduced
- F-35 runway use was changed
- Some F-35s were re-assigned
- “Valparaiso settle suit with F-35 noise concerns,” Meaghan O’Halloran, WJGH.com March 2, 2010
- “Air Force to impose limits on F-35 training flights at Eglin,” Dan Cohen, defensecommunities.org, July 9, 2014
- Addendum to the June 26, 2014 Record of Decision, for the Final Supplemental EIS ROD F-35 Beddown at Eglin AFB, Fl, April 23, 2015
- “Up in the air: F-35 training program remains strong despite reduction in aircraft, students,” Kelly Humphrey, NWFdailynews.com, April 23, 2016
Oceana Naval Air Station, VA Navy plans to base the F-35 were cancelled when citizen opposition groups took action.
- “F-35C not likely to be based at NAS Oceana,” The Virginian, Dianna Cahn, November 19, 2013”
- “Jet noise can make you rich”, Defense Tech, May 16, 2007
- F-18 flights were reduced significantly
Washington County, NC Navy plans to build an outlying landing field were cancelled after opposition from residents.
- “Environmental Law Center to file suit challenging Navy’s OLF plan” wral.com, Jan 9, 2004
- “Hundreds drawn to celebrate ruling on OLF,” The Virginian Pilot, Kate Wiltrout, Mar 30, 2008
- “Notice of Intent to Terminate the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement,” Federal Register, Vol 73, No 69, Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Air Force plans to move F-16s from Eielson AFB to Joint Base Elmendorf in June 2013 were stopped when Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) objected.
- “F-16 transfer debate highlights flaws in Senate’s decision-making,” Robert F. Dorr, Air Force Times, July 9, 2012, page 5
- Press Release, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, March 1, 2013