Good news for the local economy this morning, as the Standard-Examiner reveals that Hill Air Force Base is apparently on the inside track for deployment of the first two operational squadrons for the advanced F-35 stealth fighter.
Congressman Rob Bishop said he was informed Thursday by top Air Force Officials that Hill Air Force Base (AFB) has been selected as the Air Force's "preferred alternative" for the location of the first two operational squadrons for the advanced F-35 stealth fighter.For those who are unaware, Hill AFB is "one of Utah's most significant magnets of economic activity," according to the Utah Economic Development Department:
Operation could begin as early as July 2013, according to Bishop in a press release out of Washington, D.C.
Officials indicated that Hill would likely obtain a third operational squadron mid-2019, assuming the F-35 program remains funded and on-course, he said.
Covering parts of Davis and Weber Counties, Hill AFB is the largest single site employer in the state. It accounts for nearly 50,000 direct and indirect jobs, pumps approximately $3.6 billion annually into the Utah economy, creating $2.3 billion in personal income and annual state tax revenue of $192 million, according to estimates for 2009 from the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, which studied the economic impact of closing Hill AFB prior to the last round of military base realignment and closure (BRAC) efforts.With the recent paring down of HAFB mission capability, it's great to observe that we're first in line to replace the old with the new, technology-wise.
Yesiree, the F-35 is one hot bird; and it would be great to have a few squadrons of these parked in Emerald City's back yard for the next few decades. More... ? Just axin'
And a quick cautionary note to our Utah GOP congressional delegation. Please be extra nice to President Obama over the next few months. As this morning's article emphasizes, "the decision is not one-hundred percent concrete until the final Environmental Impact Statement is complete." Whatever you do, GOP Senators Hatch and Bennett, and GOP Congressmen Bishop and Chaffetz, try to not screw this up.
A word to the wise is sufficient, we hope.