News broke yesterday that the United States Air Force did not select Gowen Field National Guard Base in Idaho for the future home of the next National Guard F-35 bases.
Gowen Field is located at the Boise airport and shares runways with other air traffic.
The base is located in the district of Congressman Raul Labrador and he tweeted out a statement regarding his disappointment in the decision:
I was disappointed to learn today that Gowen Field was not selected to be the next operating location for the F-35s. Gowen Field was clearly the best choice. I will keep working to ensure that the many strengths of Gowen Field are recognized in future basing decisions. #Idaho
— Raúl R. Labrador (@Raul_Labrador) December 21, 2017
Idaho Governor Butch Otter also issued a statement on the news:
“Although we are disappointed that Gowen Field will not receive primary consideration as a site for the F-35 mission, as a reasonable alternative we will undergo the same evaluations as the four other primary and alternative locations,” Otter said. “We are confident that through this process, Gowen Field will be recognized as a logical choice to receive these state-of-the-art aircraft.”
The F-35’s are scheduled to start arriving and the two bases that were chosen – Traux Field in Wisconsin and Danelley Field in Alabama – in 2023.
The loss of this future possibility also brings into question the future of Gowen Field and what aircraft it would support since the Air Force has announced intentions to decommission the A-10 (Gowen has 22 of them) in the future. The Mayor of Boise, Dave Bieter seemed to think that the long term future of Gowen is intact:
“They tell us very clearly, at the highest levels, that Gowen and our airspace are so valuable that the plan of the Air Force now is to keep a fighting mission at Gowen Field for years to come,” Bieter said. “I believe that we will have an F-35 someday in the future.”
In addition to National Guard bases, the Air Force has selected several active duty bases for the F-35 as well. One of them is nearby Hill Field in Utah, where Senate and Congressional members there have been effective in keeping that base relevant.