Cherry Point could get 11 new F-35 squadrons

January 16th, 2009  

Topic: Cherry Point could get 11 new F-35 squadrons

Cherry Point could get 11 new F-35 squadrons

January 15, 2009 - 10:44 AM
By Ken Buday
Havelock News
Cherry Point could receive up to 11 squadrons of Joint Strike Fighter aircraft under one of five proposals being considered by the Department of the Navy.
According to the Federal Register that details an environmental impact statement concerning the basing of the jets, Cherry Point could get as few as two squadrons based on one of the alternatives.
The Navy has announced open-house meetings on the proposals, including Feb. 10 at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center, Feb. 11 at the Emerald Isle Community Center and Feb. 12 at Fred A. Anderson Elementary School in Bayboro. Times for all meetings will be from 4 to 7 p.m.
The Marine Corps is looking at basing 13 total squadrons - 10 active-duty squadrons, one reserve squadron and two training squadrons - at Beaufort, S.C. and Cherry Point.
The new J-35B is to replace the existing Marine Corps arsenal of jets, including the AV-8B Harrier, the EA-6B Prowler and the F-18 Hornet, according to the Navy.
Currently, Cherry Point has four Harrier squadrons and four Prowler squadrons but no Marine Corps Hornet squadrons. Beaufort, S.C., has six Marine Corps Hornet squadrons but no Harriers or Prowlers, according to a base spokesman.
Five options exist for the basing of the jets. In one, Cherry Point would receive 11 squadrons, each of which would have up to 16 jets, according to the Navy. The training squadrons would each have up to 20 jets.
Other alternatives would base either eight, nine, five or two squadrons at Cherry Point, with the others being based at Beaufort, S.C.
According to the Navy, implementing any of the basing proposals would take about 11 years and would start in 2012. However, that does not necessarily mean the first squadrons would arrive at Cherry Point in 2012, said Mike Barton, Cherry Point spokesman. He said no firm dates are available for the arrival of any of the new jets.
The timing would also be based on any construction or modifications to the bases that may be required to host the new jets, according to the Navy. No additional training ranges would be required.
The environmental statement will explore the potential environmental impacts on the areas for each basing option, according to the Navy. Those impacts may include historic resources, geology, water quality, air quality, noise and safety, among others.
The first phase of the report is the meeting and public comment period, which ends Feb. 16.
The meetings will include displays and information on the five proposals for basing the jets. Marine Corps and Navy officials will also be on hand to answer questions, and those attending will have the opportunity to submit written comments for use in the report.
Written comments on the proposals can also be e-mailed through the project Web site at or sent by mail to USMC F-35B East Coast Stationing EIS, P.O. Box 56488, Jacksonville, FL 32241-6488.
A draft report of the study will be produced, followed by another public comment period. The final environmental impact statement is expected by October of 2010, with a final decision on the basing of the aircraft to follow within 30 days, according to the Navy.
The Marine Corps version of the jet is designed to be a short takeoff/vertical landing fighter with an emphasis on air-to-ground combat. Maj. Gen. Charles R. Davis, who heads the Joint Strike Fighter program, told reporters last year that procurement costs would average $69.3 million per jet, according to the Associated Press.


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