By: Japser Craven for VTDigger, Aug. 29, 2019
n the eyes of many who oppose the F-35, the Vermont Air National Guard’s original sin came during the era of the F-16, when pilots began frequently implementing afterburners, which are essentially auxiliary jets that increase thrust — and noise — on takeoff.
There was no environmental impact statement or in-depth public debate about the use of afterburners for the F-16, and some residents felt the military had snookered them.
So when the prospect of the F-35s coming to the Burlington International Airport was raised, community members quickly raised the question of how often this new fleet would take off with afterburners.
Documents obtained by VTDigger reveal that the Air Force is internally predicting that, at other bases hosting the F-35, afterburners might be used as much as 10 times more frequently than they originally publicly predicted. The Vermont National Guard, however, says that they still plan to use the boosters in a limited way.
A local activist plans to challenge that claim in court.