By Steven Klafka and Rosanne Greco
May 8, 2020
The alarming coronavirus pandemic is a reminder that we must be less wasteful and much wiser in how we spend taxpayer money. The enormous human and economic toll of this pandemic has been exacerbated by our failure to invest in societal needs like our health care system. Instead, we continue to pour billions of dollars to expand a bloated military budget — including the F-35 fighter jets proposed for Truax Field. The $100 million cost of a single fighter jet would provide much-needed medical resources that could have prevented and minimized the spread of the pandemic. For example, the $1.5 billion dollar cost for the proposed squadron at Truax Field would pay for 60,000 ventilators, sorely needed to prevent deaths from the coronavirus. F-35 jets cannot fight pandemics.
The Air Force currently has 44 possible missions for Air National Guard units, most of which do not require fighter jet training. Given these alternative missions, we should demand our elected officials, in particular our congressional delegation, direct the Air Force to select a new mission for the 115th Fighter Wing that is compatible with a residential area and one that supports and improves our community, rather than one that, according to the Air Force’s Environmental Impact Statement, will sicken our residents, make us less safe, and reduce our quality of life. The 115th should have a mission that provides us civil defense in times of catastrophe and emergency, rather than a mission that wages war with a first strike, nuclear-equipped offensive weapon like the F-35. Hosting such an offensive weapon seems ludicrous when our current security threats now come from cyber-attacks and terrorism, neither of which the F-35 can counter.