I strongly oppose the basing of the experimental F35 bomber jets at Burlington International Airport, in the middle of the most densely populated area of the state. These planes are dangerous, poorly tested, and many times louder than the F16s based there currently. In no way does it make sense to me for these planes to come to South Burlington.
But let’s be clear. I very much support our Air National Guard continuing to have a mission in Vermont. There is a misconception going around that, without the F35s, the Guard would no longer have a mission and the base would close. In fact, the Air Force has never said this and there is every indication that the Guard would simply have a different mission once the F16s begin to be decommissioned in coming decades. Further, the Air Force’s own report indicates there is no real economic gain to the basing or loss of jobs if the planes do not come here.
What the basing could mean for surrounding communities, however, could be devastating. Many more homes, much of it affordable housing, will be in a noise zone deemed essentially uninhabitable by the FAA. Despite what some claim, there is little that can be done to mitigate these sound levels for residents and businesses in the flight path. More homes would likely need to be purchased and razed, certainly in South Burlington, and perhaps even in my own district, all at taxpayer expense. Home values would be affected, yes, but more importantly, many children and families will be affected. It is well documented that these kinds of noise levels can impair cognitive development.
One last thing to keep in mind. The development and procurement cost for these bombers is going to be well over 1.5 trillion dollars — about one and a half times the GDP of Australia.