Murkowski hopeful that Eielson will house new jets

  • Wednesday, May 28, 2014 10:00pm
  • News

FAIRBANKS (AP) — Eielson Air Force Base likely will be on a narrowed list of potential locations for two squadrons of new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said.

In a luncheon speech Tuesday, the Alaska Republican said the Air Force will reduce a list of five candidates to two or three locations by the end of June. Eielson should be in that group, she said, and is in a good position to be picked for the jets, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

“You always hate to jinx anything before you have confirmation, but I do believe we’re in a strong position in the Interior for the F-35s,” Murkowski said at the 11th annual Ladies That Lunch Committee Spring Luncheon.

Both Eielson and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage are on the current list with three undisclosed overseas Pacific bases. Recent tensions in Russia and China have underscored the strategic importance of the Pacific, Murkowski said, and Alaska squadrons allow the U.S. to have a regional presence without being in world hot spot.

Hill Air Force Base in Utah was the first base to receive F-35s. The military plans to buy more than 2,000.

Military officials told Murkowski that the closure of the Flint Hills Resources refinery in North Pole will not influence the decision. The refinery had supplied jet fuel for Eielson aircraft.

Fairbanks officials have lobbied hard for F-35s to be based at Eielson. The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly in April allocated $250,000 to push for “mission growth” at area military bases.

The Fairbanks Economic Development Corp. estimates the F-35s would create 3,042 Department of Defense jobs at Eielson, adding $379 million in payroll. FEDC President Jim Dodson said it would be tough to make room for the squadrons at the Anchorage base.

Eielson provides extensive training grounds and a receptive community, according to supporters.

“I think we’ll make the next cut,” Dodson said. “It would be pretty hard to leave a U.S. base out.”

More in News

Assembly President Brent Johnson asks questions of representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during a joint work session of the School Board and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough to enter contract for asbestos flooring abatement in 3 central peninsula schools

The work will be done at Kenai Central High, Kenai Alternative High and Sterling Elementary schools

Alaska State Troopers logo.
1 dead, 3 missing after boat capsizes near Seward

Alaska State Troopers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard of an overturned vessel around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday

Kenai Central High School stands under clear skies in Kenai, Alaska, on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough approves contract for KCHS parking lot rehabilitation

Soldotna-based Foster Construction will be awarded the bid of $648,997 to complete the project

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital to host Cancer Survivor’s Day event

The event will take place Sunday, June 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks to the joint Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday.
Carpenter gives wrap up on session as he nears end of House term

Carpenter is seeking election to state Senate District D

(from left to right) Jachin Sanchez, Carter Lemons, Rowan Mahoney, Adelyn McCorison and Taylor Rickard graduated from Ninilchik School on Monday, May 13, 2024 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Photo provided by Mattea Peters-Williamson
Ninilchik graduates 5 in 2024 commencement

The school held the ceremony Monday, May 13

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee adjourns

The committee will deliver recommendations to school board in July

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out corroded insulation outside of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 in Soldotna . (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna Elementary awaits action on approved bond

Almost two years after public OKs bond, borough asking for more time

Most Read