By Mario Conde
Last Tuesday at the County Board of Supervisors meeting, Deputy CEO Andy Horne spoke the board about the possibility of having the county as the home base of the Joint Strike Fighter to the local Navy base. The F-35 Lightning II Program (also known as the Joint Strike Fighter Program) is the Department of Defense’s focal point for defining affordable next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and our allies. The F-35 will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battles pace of the future.
The JSFs advanced airframe, autonomic logistics, avionics, propulsion systems, stealth, and firepower will ensure that the F-35 is the most affordable, lethal, supportable and survivable aircraft ever to be used by so many war fighters across the globe.
Involved in this project are Gaylla Finnell, Josue Mercado, and Cathy Kennerson who are working to bring this aircraft to the valley since the County has ideal flying weather, making NAF-El Centro a key local for training and has the ability to fly 360 days a year that enhances combat readiness and results in savings to the tax payer.
Horne told the board that NAF-El Centro is the perfect location for home basing the aircraft due to its strategic location. He mentioned that it’s the perfect location since it’s strategically located along the I-8 corridor connecting MCAS-Yuma and MCAS Miramar where the JSF F-35B Aricraft will be home based.
Another one of the advantages of having that aircraft here in the Valley is that the County’s vast unobstructed dessert terrain, unique climate limited non-military air traffic, and its own dedicated gunnery and bomb ranges make NAF-El Centro and ideal environment for aerial combat maneuvering, air-to-air gunnery, bombing practice and electronic warfare training, Horne said.
County CEO Ralph Cordova said that the project will be presented to the Board in the next couple of weeks.