F-35 opponents claim basing decision rigged by Vt. National Guard, Leahy

May 18, 2018

Opponents of bringing the F-35 to Burlington are raising new allegations of wrongdoing by the Vermont National Guard and Senator Patrick Leahy. They are demanding a federal probe into what they call unethical, and perhaps illegal conduct, in key decisions to base the fighter jet in Vermont. Both the Guard and Leahy are calling the charges bogus.

Longtime F-35 opponent Rosanne Greco and a group she calls the ‘Search Party,’ claim to have uncovered damning information about the Vermont Guard and Senator Patrick Leahy in 68,000 pages of military correspondence.

“You can see the actual emails and who’s talking to who,” Greco said. “We finally decided if we didn’t go through this, the truth would be buried forever.”

She got the emails after a failed lawsuit to stop the next generation fighter jets from coming to Vermont. Although the suit was unsuccessful, it led to the release of emails between the Guard and the Air Force about the F-35. Greco’s group started to pour over them.

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Opponents of the F 35 jet call for an investigation on the Vermont National Guard on “You Can Quote Me”

By Darren Perron
May 20, 2018

Right now on “You Can Quote Me,” opponents of the F 35 jet call for an investigation on the Vermont National Guard.
They’re alleging unethical and possible illegal conduct that resulted in Vermont landing the controversial plane.

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Air Force, state officials stand firm on F-35 basing

By Jasper Craven
June 4, 2018

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has told federal and local leaders that the Vermont Air National Guard has essentially one viable flying mission — the F-35 fighter jet.

Wilson told Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in an interview last month at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that it was “highly likely” Vermont would lose the Guard base if Burlington doesn’t host the F-35.

Shortly after, Wilson reiterated her position in a letter to Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.

“If that decision were to be reversed, the Vermont Air National Guard would likely lose their flying mission upon the retirement of the F-16s,” Wilson wrote to Weinberger. “The Air Force is much smaller than it was at the end of the Cold War.

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Former Air Force leaders demand probe of ‘unethical’ conduct by Air Guard officials in F-35 basing

By Jasper Craven
May 6 2018

Two retired Air Force officials have called on federal watchdogs to investigate the Vermont Air National Guard over what they allege is unethical and, perhaps, illegal conduct.

Air Force Col. Rosanne Greco, the leader of an activist group that opposes the F-35 fighter jet, and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Bourassa, submitted letters to the inspectors general of the Air Force, Department of Defense and Air National Guard demanding investigations into “unprofessional, inappropriate, and possibly illegal conduct of some senior military officers of the Vermont Air National Guard” that appear “to violate military ethics and regulations.”

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Will nukes accompany F-35s to Vermont? No one’s saying

By Jasper Craven
June 3, 2018

In an undated internal analysis of press coverage tied to the proposed basing of F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport, Vermont Air National Guard leaders detailed five potential media questions “We Hope We Don’t Get.”

The first four dreaded questions were often asked throughout the years-long debate over the controversial plane’s basing, and included “Why is the F35A four times louder?” and “Why would you be in favor of bringing a plane here when the Accident Potential Zone extends two miles into Winooski?”

But the fifth and final question is one that has been rarely discussed, and is almost impossible to answer: “Where are you planning on storing the nuclear weapons that are part of the F-35 arsenal?”

Opponents of the F-35 in Burlington have long raised the specter of nuclear weapons coming to Chittenden County along with the F-35, and the plane was designed with nuclear payload capability. In May 2013, when the plane’s opponents asked the Vermont Air Guard about nuclear bombs being based in Burlington, even military officials seemed unsure of the answer.

“We haven’t talked about nuclear capabilities of the F-35A yet so this may take us some time,” wrote an Air Force public affairs officer at the Pentagon to her Vermont counterpart. “We’re asking about it.”

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Leahy and staff had role in F-35 basing decision

By Jasper Craven
Mar 5 2018

In December 2012, more than 100 Vermonters gathered outside U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Burlington office to voice their displeasure over his support for a plan to base a squadron of F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport.

While many of the activists in attendance generally agreed with the senior senator’s political philosophy and that of his two fellow Vermont congressional colleagues, they found themselves at odds on the F-35 issue. One woman’s sign read: “Leahy, Sanders, Welch, You’re Breaking My Heart.”

According to a Seven Days report, protesters entered Leahy’s office and demanded the Democratic lawmaker hold a public hearing on the F-35. Leahy’s chief of staff, John Tracy, appeared on the senator’s behalf and dismissed calls for a forum.

Jimmy Leas, a South Burlington attorney long opposed to the planes, pointed out to Tracy that “so far, (Leahy) has only made himself available to speak with supporters of the plane.”

 

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Former Air Force colonel commands F-35 opposition

Rosanne GrecoBy Jasper Craven
Mar 2 2018

For nearly three decades, Col. Rosanne Greco served her country in the U.S. Air Force. But for the past five years, she’s been engaged in a fierce battle with the military over the planned basing of F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport.

And while Greco looks back fondly on her service, her perspective on the military — and jet noise — has changed dramatically since she began asking questions about plans to base 18 F-35s in Burlington, scheduled to begin next fall.

“I just get sort of a thrill with that loud noise, so it never bothered me personally,” Greco recalled. “As a matter of fact, we used to run out and listen to it. Although I emotionally enjoy loud jet noise, now my head knows that it’s not really good for me. … Now when I hear the noise I connect it to the people who are trapped, who really have nowhere to go.”

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Vermont officials steadfast in support of F-35

By Jasper Craven
Mar 1 2018

In December 2012, Vermont’s then-Gov. Peter Shumlin squeezed into a nine-seat charter jet for a trip to Florida.

Those on board — including Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and then-Winooski Mayor Michael O’Brien — were headed to Eglin Air Force Base. The mission: To hear the noise of the F-35 fighter jet firsthand, and report back to Vermonters.

The trip was paid for by the Greater Burlington Industrial Corp. (GBIC), a business group that has supported the basing of F-35 stealth fighter jets in the Burlington area. One of that group’s leaders, real estate magnate Ernie Pomerleau, also accompanied Shumlin on the trip.

Noticeably absent were officials from South Burlington, the city expected to shoulder the greatest burden when 18 of the jets are scheduled to arrive at Burlington International Airport next fall. They were not invited.

After touching down in sunny Florida, Democrat Shumlin and the rest of his delegation took a tour of an F-35. “It’s a pretty amazing machine,” Shumlin remarked to a Vermont Public Radio reporter who accompanied the officials.

After the tour, Shumlin listened to two idling jet models: one simulating an F-16, the military aircraft currently based in Burlington; the other mocking an F-35, the replacement. Shumlin and his colleagues also witnessed both planes taking off. “Volume, seems to me, is about the same,” Shumlin observed.

“Listening to this has been a real eye opener,” he said.

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Problems have plagued the F-35 for many years

By Jasper Craven
Feb 28 2018

Many adjectives have been used to describe the F-35 stealth fighter jet scheduled to arrive at Burlington International Airport next year, and few of them are flattering.

The F-35 program has been pilloried in the national press as “flawed” and “failed.” It’s been called a “nightmare,” “a mess” and “a trillion-dollar mistake.” And just last month, a Bloomberg report bluntly stated: “The Pentagon Isn’t Happy with the F-35.”

Sen. John McCain, a longtime military stalwart, has been a consistent critic of the Joint Strike Fighter program over its years of development delays and cost overturns that continue to this day.

“The F-35 program’s record of performance has been both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance,” the Arizona Republican said when he chaired a 2016 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the F-35.

In 2013, the Defense Department inspector generaldetermined that the plane’s main developer, Lockheed Martin, was inadequately overseeing the F-35’s development, which “may result in nonconforming hardware, less reliable aircraft, and increased cost.”

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Already battered by thunderous noise, community braces for arrival of F-35

By Jasper Craven
Feb 27 2018

Conversations in Ray Gonda’s house came to an abrupt halt whenever the F-16s started roaring. As the growling grew louder, Gonda and his wife moved away from the windows, which vibrated as if they were possessed. As the plane took off and flew over their home, family pictures hanging side-by-side on the living room wall shook violently.

“I’d often have to readjust those pictures after the plane took off,” Gonda recalled recently.

For decades now, a fleet of F-16 fighter jets have flown out of Burlington International Airport. While the noise has become routine to many, the impact of the sound hasn’t lost its potency.

[FULL ARTICLE]

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