First F-35 comes to Madison’s Truax Field on Tuesday
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – The Wisconsin Air National Guard will begin a new era on Tuesday when the first of its highly anticipated state-of-the-art fighters touches down for good.
On Monday, the Guard revealed the first F-35A Lightning II aircraft assigned permanently to the 115th Fighter Wing is about to make its debut.
The state’s top brass will be on hand at Truax Field to celebrate the jet’s arrival. Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp and Adjutant General for Air Brig. Gen. David May will join 155th Commander Col. Bart Van Roo for a welcoming ceremony. In February, May told NBC15 News’ Tim Elliott that the jet’s were “really a game changer” for his unit.
“If you think of the F-16 as a flip phone and the F-35 as a smart phone -- and a really, really good smart phone -- it’s an enormous upgrade,” he continued.
The plane that arrives Tuesday will be the first of 20 F-35s set to be housed at Truax Field. They will not all come at once, though, and the Air National Guard expects it will take through next year to get them all here. Of the twenty total planes, 18 are assigned as primaries while two will serve as backups.
They are replacing the classic F-16 jets that previously were based at Truax Field. While similar jets from other military units have been housed recently at the air base, the last of the 115th’s F-16s left Madison approximately six months ago. May described the new jets as a major improvement over the previous generation of fighters.
“If you think of the F-16 as a flip phone and the F-35 as a smart phone -- and a really, really good smart phone -- it’s an enormous upgrade,” May explained earlier this year.
Not everyone in the community is on board with the change, however. Some people in Madison and local politicians have rallied against the new fighters being stationed at Truax Field since the proposal was first floated.
They claim the F-35s will harm the environment and cause physical and psychological harm to some people who live in Dane Co.
Around the time the Air Force made the F-35s’ move to Madison official, in early 2020, the Madison Chamber of Commerce praised the decision and predicted it would have a $100 million impact on the community.
“[T]ime and again we have seen firsthand the tremendous value the 1,200 Airmen of the 115th Fighter Wing bring to our community,” the Chamber’s statement at the time read.
Click here to download the NBC15 News app or our NBC15 First Alert weather app.
Copyright 2023 WMTV. All rights reserved.