By: Jasper Craven for VTDigger, Oct. 16, 2018
After the Pentagon grounded its entire fleet of F-35 fighter jets last week following the aircraft’s first crash, Vermont’s political leaders stressed the need to diagnose and remediate the issue that caused the accident, but offered no concerns over plans to make the state’s air national guard unit the first to receive the next-generation jets next fall.
In a joint statement, the three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation said “safety must always be the top priority” when deploying a new plane, but offered no new thoughts on whether the news of the crash affected their thinking on the plane’s Vermont basing.
“The Pentagon has said that it will inspect every aircraft for the suspected part,” the statement continued. “They must continue to thoroughly investigate this issue until they have corrected the problem.”
VTDigger submitted written follow-up questions concerning the crash to the offices of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and only received responses from David Carle, a Leahy spokesman. He said “the Defense Department has given assurances that they will keep the delegation fully informed,” and will release a public report sharing the agency’s findings.
In a statement, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger expressed concern over the crash, and said his office was closely communicating with Leahy’s on the matter. Weinberger did not indicate whether the crash had changed his previously stated support of the planes, and his office did not respond to follow-up questions.