Air Force rejects request for further study of F-35 afterburner use in Vermont

Local News

The U.S. Air Force has rejected a request by opponents of the F-35 basing in Burlington to update an assessment of the potential noise effects of afterburner use on takeoff.

In a letter to the attorney representing retired Col. Rosanne Greco, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force John W. Henderson denied opponents’ request for a supplement to its 2013 Environmental Impact Statement.

“There is neither a change in the proposed action or significant new information which would require the Air Force to prepare a supplement to the FEIS, nor a reason to stay the F-35A operational basing at BIA,” Henderson wrote.

Afterburners are auxiliary jets that increase the thrust of the F-35 on takeoff. The additional power also creates more noise. 

James Dumont, Greco’s attorney, reached out to the Air Force in August after reports that the Air Force had predicted up to 10 times more afterburner use than originally anticipated at other F-35 bases.

In September, as the Vermont National Guard prepared for the arrival of the first two F-35As , Brigadier General Greg Knight said the guard is committed to using afterburners just five percent of the time.

In his letter, Henderson reinforced the 5-percent figure, adding that the Air Force will continue to participate in Burlington International Airport’s noise mapping.

Greco said Henderson should have provided more information.

“They talked about tracking afterburner takeoffs, but said nothing about what they would do if their estimates were wrong or if their plans didn’t work out,” Greco said. “Citizens deserve to know the what-ifs.”

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