Vermont guard hopes F-35 can be flown quietly
SOUTH BURLINGTON -- Some top Vermont Air National Guard officers said Friday they're hopeful the new fighter planes they're going to be getting will be quieter than the aging F-16 jets they now fly.
They say the new F-35s won't need extra power, known as afterburner, that F-16s in most cases need to take off and that makes the planes noisy.
But Col. T.J. Jackman, commander of the guard's 158th Fighter Wing, said it won't be possible to know for sure until the new planes arrive in 2020. Meanwhile, he said, he is trying to arrange for an F-35 to visit Burlington so residents can see and hear one in flight.
Vermont is scheduled to be the first Air National Guard base to take delivery of the planes at a base where they would be ready to be sent overseas to war as needed. Eighteen planes are to begin arriving in June of 2020 and will be based at the Burlington International Airport. The guard released a mitigation and management plan for them Friday.
Opponents say the planes are louder than the jets they will replace and claim the F-35s will erode the quality of life for people who live near the airport.
"The plan is not a real mitigation plan. At best it is a plan to plan," F-35 opponent James Marc Leas, of South Burlington, said in a statement Friday. "It is a pretend plan."
Jackman and other guard and airport officials said that as more becomes known about the F-35, they would revise their plans. Over the years, the guard has learned to fly its F-16s to minimize noise in the community and the guard expects to do the same with the F-35.
When asked if plans to address the noise concerns could be developed before the F-35s arrive, Jackman replied: "We cannot because we don't have it here. The noise mitigation will be as the F-35s arrive with regard to how we fly the airplane."
Jackman said that the Air Force is gaining experience with the planes as they are being delivered to the first bases around the country and that pilots and others have learned how to ease the noise concerns of communities around those bases.
"The plan is a living document. It will likely be updated several times before the F-35s arrive here in 2020," Jackman said "We pledge to keep our partners and the community informed as the plan evolves."
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