Vt. Guard's F-35 Impact Reduction Plan Faces Criticism

Published 05/02 2014 09:11PM

Updated 05/02 2014 09:29PM

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - The Vermont Air National Guard says it will work to reduce the impact of its new fighter jets when they arrive in 2020.
But they admit the F-35s will have to land in Vermont before they can truly understand the jets' effect.

The guard released an environmental impact mitigation and management plan. It looks into things the guard plans to do before the jets arrive and after.

They have been working on it for a few months and it's gotten the okay now from top Air Force officials.

The report recommends 29 different actions. Some concern construction on base. Others about the jets themselves.

It says the biggest issue will be the noise. The guard says it will follow the current operation of the F-16s, including changes to how the jets takeoff and land.

But the guard says other measures will have to wait until the F-35s arrive here.

"I don't think the plan is saying status quo. The plan is saying we're going and prepared to do everything necessary for us to minimize and mitigate any impact that the F-35 has," says Colonel Thomas Jackman, Jr., commander of the Vermont Air National Guard.

As the jets are studied more, the guard thinks changes to how the jets takeoff will make the F-35 quieter than the F-16 most of the time.

But opponents of the F-35s say they have major concerns about noise still.

"What the Air Force says is the only thing you can do to mitigate sound, and that is to tear down the houses, remove the people and tear down the houses," says James Marc Leas, a member of the Stop the F-35 Coalition.

Opponents say they plan to file a complaint about the report in federal court. There's already a lawsuit over environmental concerns in state court.

The guard is also hopeful that an F-35 can come for a visit so the community can see and hear it for themselves. But that could be several years off.

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