The Air Force, on April 15, chose a Montgomery Air National Guard base as the 6th base in the U.S. to field F-35s, the new Lockheed Martin fighter jet that has been in development for two decades.
“I am appreciative of the hard work our congressional delegation and the many people who have helped make this possible,” said Gov. Kay Ivey, announcing the decision to station a group of F-35s at the 187th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard at Dannelly Field. Delivery of the F-35 aircraft to the Alabama base is expected to begin in December 2023.
The F-35 contract to design and develop the F-35 went to Lockheed Martin in 2000, after a contest with Boeing. The Pentagon asked for a highly advanced fighter jet that could meet the needs of all branches of the military, an ambitious goal that led to years of development delays plagued by hundreds of deficiencies marked by the Pentagon testing agency.
Those challenges smoothed out over the last couple years, and the plane flew in combat for the first time in 2019 in Afghanistan.
The 187th Fighter Wing in Montgomery will be a training facility for pilots chosen to fly the sophisticated new plane.
In the most recent Pentagon assessment, the estimated costs for operating and supporting the fleet of F-35 fighters over more than six decades grew by almost $73 billion to $1.196 trillion. The estimated total price for research and procurement has increased by $22 billion.