NAf El Centro Being Considered for Homebasing of New Strike Force Fighter

The Department of the Navy is moving forward with the proposed homebasing of the F-35c Joint Strike Fighter. They are currently looking at two different locations for homebasing the new fighter one being the, NAF El Centro and the other, NAF Lemoore near Fresno California.

The Department of the Navy intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to identify and evaluate potential environmental consequences from the proposed homebasing of F-35C Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft on the West Coast of the United States. Under this proposal, a total of seven active-duty FA-18C Hornet aircraft squadrons and one training squadron will progressively transition to the more advanced F-35C beginning in 2015. The aging FA-18C Hornet aircraft are expected to be replaced with F-35C aircraft by 2025.

As a replacement for the Navy’s aging FA-18C Hornet aircraft, the U.S. Congress authorized and appropriated procurement of the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, the next generation strike-fighter for the Navy. The F-35C is a carrier-based, highly advanced, single-engine, single-seat, supersonic, multi-role strike-fighter aircraft that can operate from conventional runways and aircraft carriers and includes features that makes it difficult to detect on radar. This aircraft will provide the Navy with enhanced war-fighting capabilities while achieving efficiencies in operations and support.

In keeping with the emphasis on greater fleet Pacific presence in the 2006 and 2010 Quadrennial Defense Reviews (QDR) and Naval Operations Concept 2010, the Navy’s transition plan for the F-35C begins with the transition of active duty Navy FA-18C squadrons on the West Coast of the United States beginning in 2015. In addition, to maintain pilot production requirements, a training squadron will be established on the West Coast in 2017. Co-locating the training squadron with West Coast active-duty squadrons will provide efficiencies in manpower and maintenance support, and reduce permanent change of station moves by students upon transfer to active duty squadrons.

The proposed action would provide facilities and functions to support homebasing a total of one hundred (100) F-35C aircraft (seven squadrons of 10 aircraft each, plus 30 aircraft in the training squadron) at the selected West Coast homebasing location. By 2025, when the program is complete, the 109 FA-18C aircraft from the Pacific Fleet will have been replaced with 100 F-35C aircraft.

The selected homebase installation may require some construction, facility renovations, and utility upgrades in order to accommodate the new aircraft. Facility construction and modification would occur prior to and continue throughout the F-35C arrivals. The F-35C would operate within existing airspace and at existing training ranges.

The purpose of the proposed action is to replace aging Pacific Fleet FA-18C Hornet aircraft with the F-35C while meeting the aircrews’ associated training and readiness requirements. The proposed action is needed to support the 2006 and 2010 QDRs and Naval Operations Concept 2010 by providing the Pacific Fleet with the more advanced F-35C as soon as possible. The F-35C represents a significant increase in strike fighter capability for the U.S. West Coast.

The Navy’s F-35C West Coast Homebasing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will evaluate options for homebasing the F-35C on the West Coast, including taking no homebasing action. In order to maximize efficiency of support facilities, simulation devices and on-site support personnel, the Navy intends to base all its west coast F-35C aircraft at one location. Accordingly, initial action alternatives to be considered in the U.S. Navy F-35C West Coast Homebasing EIS are basing seven F-35C active-duty squadrons and one F-35C training squadron at either NAS Lemoore or NAF El Centro.

No decision will be made to implement any alternative until the NEPA process is completed and a Record of Decision is signed by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment) or designee.

Resource areas to be addressed in the U.S. Navy F-35C West Coast Homebasing EIS will include, but not be limited to: airfields and airspace, noise, air quality, safety, land use, infrastructure and utilities, socioeconomics, environmental justice, community facilities and services, ground transportation and traffic, biological resources, topography and soils, water resources, cultural resources, and hazardous materials and waste. The analysis will evaluate direct and indirect impacts, and will account for cumulative impacts from other relevant activities in the areas of NAS Lemoore and NAF El Centro. Relevant and reasonable measures that could avoid or mitigate environmental effects will also be analyzed. Additionally, the Navy will undertake any consultations required by applicable laws or regulations.

Scoping is one of the first steps in the EIS process and your input during the 45-day scoping period, from January 28 to March 14, 2011, is important. Open House Public Scoping Meetings will be held on the dates and locations shown below to solicit input from the public on what should be analyzed and studied in the EIS. Navy representatives will be present at these open houses to explain the proposed project and alternatives, answer questions you might have about these items, and describe the environmental impact analysis process and related timeline.

NAF El Centro Tuesday, February 15, 2011 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm Southwest High School 20001 Ocotillo Drive, El Centro, CA 92243

NAF  Lemoore Thursday February 17, 2077 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm Lemoore Senior Center – Gene Stebbins Building 789 s. Lemmoore Avenue (S. 18th Avenue), Lemoore CA 93245