South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and South Dakota Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Timothy Reisch today wrote to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James urging the Air Force to base the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Next year, the Air Force is expected to announce its basing decisions for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, to include two Air National Guard bases.
“The South Dakota Air National Guard has been one of our nation’s premier fighter units since General Joe Foss founded the squadron nearly 70 years ago,” the delegation wrote. “The 114th Fighter Wing has demonstrated outstanding mission readiness and a superior record of excellence, making South Dakota an ideal location as the next beddown site of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.”
There are currently more than 25 National Guard fighter bases in the U.S. After the first two basing decisions in 2016, Air National Guard units in additional states will also receive the F-35.
Full text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Deborah Lee James
Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20330-1670
Dear Madam Secretary,
We write today regarding the potential basing of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The South Dakota Air National Guard has been one of our nation’s premier fighter units since General Joe Foss founded the squadron nearly 70 years ago. The 114th Fighter Wing has demonstrated outstanding mission readiness and a superior record of excellence, making South Dakota an ideal location as the next beddown site of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The 114th Fighter Wing has been nationally recognized for its accomplishments in flying and combat readiness. Last year it was recognized with the Spaatz Trophy – denoting the 114th Fighter Wing as the highest rated Air National Guard flying unit – and this year the Wing was awarded the NGAUS Distinguished Flying Unit plaque and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. Its exceptional safety record, critical for conversion to a new weapons system, was validated this year as well, with the Major General John J. Pesch Safety Trophy in addition to a fifth consecutive Governor’s Safety Award of Honor.
The 114th Fighter Wing has exceptional, uncongested airspace providing supersonic and low altitude operations able to meet the unique requirements of the F-35 aircraft. Additionally, Joe Foss Field has two runways greater than 8,000 feet with cables, maintenance facilities and ramps to support any size squadron, and a state-of-the-art operations complex. Airmen of the 114th Fighter Wing are highly experienced and trained: 88% of the pilots are “experienced” averaging over 2,100 flying hours and 62% of maintenance personnel hold a 7-level AFSC.
The South Dakota Air National Guard enjoys the unwavering support of the Sioux Falls community and South Dakota citizens. The 114th Fighter Wing has established a standard of excellence among Air National Guard units clearly making Joe Foss Field an ideal location for beddown of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Please feel free to contact us at any time if we can be of further assistance.