Monday, August 01, 2011
During the debt ceiling debate, not surprisingly, has us all focused on policing government spending. And one suggestion that’s been circulated is to slow production of certain defense projects, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. That conversation takes place at a time when Arizonans anticipate Luke Air Force Base will be the training home for the aircraft. There are already suppliers and experts in our state working on it, and we need the jobs and economic development that a large squadron multi-role stealth aircraft would bring.
Arizona’s congressional delegation must stand for high-rate production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The aging F-16 squadron at Luke already shrunk from 185 fighters six years ago to now 138 – with the base’s population slipping down to 7,400 personnel from the original 8,000. That’s fewer jobs, meaning diminished wages and decreased revenue for the state.
We can’t turn this around with more F-16s. They’re outdated and, frankly, enemy technology is fast catching up with them. We need next-generation technology to keep our men and women safe.
The F-35 project brings nearly $90 million in economic impact from the work of 19 suppliers based here in the state. So, full production would bring more jobs at Luke, and more jobs throughout Arizona. And that’s just the tip of it.
Several years ago, an independent study discovered that Luke AFB alone was bringing in $2.2 billion annual revenue for Arizona. There’s nothing chump about that kind of change. Included is an economic engine from nearly 100,000 retired military personnel living around the base and the many businesses, schools and community institutions in surrounding metropolitan areas that depend on that income for its existence.
So, supporting the F-35 is, in reality, supporting the state and growing jobs. Projections estimate that the initial base construction phase for the F-35s would generate $125 million by itself. Again: more jobs.
We could talk all day about the F-35 as the most advanced multi-role stealth combat aircraft in the world. And it doesn’t hurt to mention how much we need it to maintain our global air superiority (would you believe that some of our aircraft are nearly 30 years old??).
But, we really need our representatives in Washington to hear this loud and clear. Simply put, this is all beneficial for Arizona―with the extra-added bonus of protecting our country and people in uniform. We need to get the F-35 here, benefit from the job growth, train the pilots and get this aircraft in full flight. That’s a no-brainer Arizonans can’t afford to take chances on.
Posted by Truth and Politics at 7:55 AM